Home Fire Safety: Using Electricity Safely in Your Home

You can easily prevent fires in your home by using electrical equipment safety and maintaining it regularly.  Below are some of the things you can do to prevent a fire in your home.

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A build up of grease, dirt and dust can fuel a fire.

All electrical appliances including air conditioners, toasters, heaters, filters on clothes dryers and range hoods need regular cleaning.

Fire can be caused by damaged and frayed cords.

Cords on electrical appliances need to be checked regularly. We recommended that a licensed professional carries out any repairs that are required.

Use power boards and double adaptors properly to avoid fires.

Don’t overload your electrics by plugging a double adaptor or power board into another double adaptor or power board as it can be dangerous.

Incorrectly using extension cords can cause fires.

If you leave an extension cord coiled while you use it or if you place a cord under floor coverings it can cause overheating. You should use a single extension cords rather than joining shorter cords together.

Be careful to always keep your electrical appliances away from water.

Make sure that you don’t leave or use any electrical equipment around water. Hair dryers and hair straighteners take a long time to cool down so give them enough time to cool on a non-combustible surface before you put them away.

Light globes can become very hot.

Don’t cover you lamps with any type of fabric. If you wish to dim a lamp we recommend that you use a globe with lower wattage. Keep your bathroom heat lamps clean and free of dust build up.

TVs, Computers, VCRs, monitors, DVD players, and gaming consoles can overheat and cause fires even when they are not in use.

All of these electrical devices should be turned off after every time you use them. You should provide good air circulation around your TVs, DVD, and CD players.

Every year, thousands of counterfeit electrical products end up in Australian homes. A lot of these products aren’t built to the same quality standards as the legitimate products. A Product Safety Commission will try to find out when any of these products reaches the market. When these products are tested the results show that many counterfeit products don’t stand up to many basic safety tests.

When are counterfeit or faulty product is discovered the product safety commission will issue a recall of all of these products. Even products that are certified can cause an electrical overload. Electrical heating devices like hairdryers and heaters tend to use a lot more power and other electrical device. These types of devices can cause a circuit to overload especially a circuit that is close to its maximum allowance of amperage.
If one of these products is plugged into a power point that has a faulty circuit breaker it can cause an overload which might overheat the product and possibly catch fire.

It is likely that fires will occur in places that you cannot easily see. Excess heat that is generated by an electrical current can cause wiring that is hidden in a home’s walls to expand and contract eventually making it worse. If the wiring does become loose it can cause and ark of electricity with a much greater output of heat. The heat that is generated by this is enough to ignite wood or old installation. In some parts of Australia the relative humidity within the walls of your home can drop to that of the average desert. This can turn your timber wall framing and studs into kindling which is easily ignited by an arcing current.

One of the major problems with electrical fires is by the time that you see smoke coming out of the power point, the fire has already begun and is possibly spreading within your walls and up into your roof space. A homeowner that has turned off the power to a socket that is burning may think that they have taken care of the problem. This is not the case as a fire maybe burning behind the power point.
Electrical fires can be extremely tricky to extinguish. Because they involve electricity and water should not be used to try and put the fire out as this can cause Elektric you should. The use of chemical powers can smother the fire but allow it to reignite. We recommend that if you notice an electrical fire you should switch off the power if you’re sure that it’s safe and leave your house immediately. You should dial 000 and report fire as soon as possible.

Fires due to electrical problems

One of the most serious types of electrical accidents is an electrical fire. One of the most common types of electrical mishaps is a fire that is cause due to a short circuit in the home. This type of electrical fire can result in major losses to property and also to human life.

You should make sure that everyone in your household has a clear understanding of the causes, preventative measures and the right steps that you should take if caught in this situation. This will allow you to correctly address an electrical fire if one occurs.

Electrical fires can be caused by many different reasons. Some of the major reasons are:

  1. Short circuits of wires or cables
  2. Loose connections that can give rise to sparks
  3. Overloading of conductors as well as cables and equipment
  4. Electrical sources that are too close to flammable materials
  5. The use of inferior materials and equipment
  6. The use of the wrong fuses that leads to sparking and breakdown
  7. The generation of static electricity

Different ways that you can prevent electrical fires

You can prevent many electrical fires by following a few simple steps. If you abide by the following measures you will be able to protect your home from fire threats.

  1. Always use good quality cables.
  2. Make sure that your electrical outlets are designed to handle the appropriate appliance loads.
  3. If an electric appliance gives out any smoke or an unusual smell, you should unplug it immediately.  After this make sure that you service it properly before using it again.
  4. Avoid joins in wires. Use extension boxes with fuses or use soldering and proper mechanical joints.
  5. Renew your wiring after time. Replace any electrical cords that show cracking or fraying.
  6. Use adequate capacity fuses. Don’t increase the ratings without finding out why the fuse blew. Don’t tamper with a fuse box. You should install the fuse board away from any combustible materials like oil, paper and curtains etc.
  7. Keep flammable materials like petrol and oil in safe containers.
  8. Disconnect your electrical tools and other appliances when you are not using them.
  9. Use the correct Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker. A leakage current even of 1 Amp can cause an electrical fire. An Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker can detect leaking current and can shut-off the circuit and reduces the risk of fire.

Main causes of electrical fires

The cause of fires are grouped into three main groups that are accidental, natural and incendiary. Electricity often plays a major part as the cause of accidental fires. It can be involved in the incendiary and natural causes. It is difficult for a fire investigators to determine the cause of the fire. You will often hear the phrase quote the fire was electrically caused quote to avoid the more relevant phrase of quote the fire cause was undetermined”
It is actually quite difficult for a fire to start with just electricity. In the following sections we discuss the various ways in which electricity is involved in causing fires as well as recent developments in investigation techniques.

A fire requires three separate elements to all be present. These elements are oxygen, fuel and heat. These elements must all be present together at the same time and the fuel must be condition so that I heat source can and initiate an exothermic oxidation reaction. Electricity can play a major role in this by providing the heat source.

Short Circuits

A short circuit is one exam pull of an electrical heat source. There are two main types of short-circuits one dead short-circuit and 2 a limited short-circuit
Eight dead short-circuit occurs where I live wire comes in contact with an earth or ground wire (or the positive and negative wires become connected in a DC circuit) and this circuit becomes subsequently energised. If the circuit is properly fused it will cause diffuse to blow and the circuit to deenergise. This situation does not usually create sufficient heat to ignite a fire. Some circuits I’m not used properly. If this is the case the current will continue to pass through the wires and cause them to overheat. This can cause enough heat to ignite surrounding combustibles and cause a fire.

Limited Short Circuit

Another type of short circuit is the limited short-circuit. This occurs when the wires coming contact in a way where the volume of material through which the current flows is smaller than the fusible link. This will cause a flash or a spark and can result in the melting of the copper wiring. The copper wire will show a characteristic beading. This type of situation can also cause the ignition of certain combustibles, provided that the mass of the combustibles that are in contact with the heat source a small enough and that the heat source can cause it to reach admission temperatures which will initiate a self sustaining exothermic oxidation reaction or fire. It is difficult to ignite solid, concentrated combustibles such as wood paper and even plastic with this type of heat source. Items such as woodchips, sawdust, cotton products and combustible gases can be ignited.

Overloaded Circuits

When are circuit is overloaded it can cause an electrical heat source. Over fusing a circuit results in a higher current flow through the wires which can overload the circuit. Electrical wire is designed to carry much higher currents then it’s rated capacity though by increasing the current above this rated capacity it can cause the wires to generate Excess heat. This is a problem if the heat cannot be dissipated from the wire. This becomes a problem if the wire runs through a small insulated space like where the wiring runs through the joists in the floor of your home. In the situations that he may not be able to dissipate as quickly at it as it is being generated. This can result in the surrounding combustibles to heat up and eventually ignite in fire.

Leakage Current

Fires can also be caused by leakage current. Leakage current can occur when electricity is in the presence of water. Exposed wiring can come in contact with water at connectors and switches. Because water conducts electricity this situation will cause a current to flow through the water between the contacts or from the wire to their birth or ground. Salts will accumulate in this water overtime which increases its ability to conduct electrical current. This current can eventually generate a significant amount of hate which can begin to pyrolyse and carbonise any combustibles in the area. This can result in Carbon Bridge which creates a continuous ark and allows a significant amount of hate to be generated. This can result in the ignition of surrounding combustibles leading to a fire. It is this phenomena which has caused fires in electrical boxes that have become damp or wet.

Other Resources:

  1. http://www.rel.co.in/HTML/discover_emeFire.html
  2. http://www.waltersforensic.com/fire/vol5-no2.htm
  3. http://www.interfire.org/features/electric_wiring_faults.asp
  4. http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-safety/fire/outlet-overload1.htm
  5. http://www.mtstcil.org/skills/fire-3.html
  6. http://www.dorsetfire.gov.uk/index.php?ref=573
  7. http://www.tanesco.co.tz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=139
  8. http://www.ehow.com/facts_5150506_leading-causes-house-fires.html
  9. http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/electrical.shtm
  10. http://www.canada.com/news/Dangers+electrical+fires/7051750/story.html
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About Aegis Safe

Your safety and peace of mind is our objective. Aegis Safe has been helping our clients protect their staff and property with our full range of comprehensive fire protection solutions since 2009. We specialise in installing, inspecting, testing, diagnosing and repairing fire protection systems.

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