How to Handle an Electrical Emergency: Follow These Safety Tips

by John Warbuck
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If you don’t have a home electrical safety plan in place, you should create one and let your family know what’s expected during an emergency. You should know how to identify an electrical emergency, how best to respond and when to involve an electrician. Electrical emergencies often strike without notice and can have serious consequences.

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You should make sure that your family knows what to do in the event of an emergency and that you practice your emergency preparation plan routinely.

What Are Some Types of Electrical Emergencies?

Before covering what to do in an electrical emergency, let’s talk about electrical safety. Whenever you’re dealing with an electrical emergency, get away from the source of electricity as quickly as you can and call 911. If it’s possible to cut the power, do so immediately. If you don’t have any experience working with electrical components, always have an electrician work on your home’s wiring and circuit breaker instead of trying to do it yourself.

The most common electrical emergencies you may encounter at home include the following.

Electrical Fire

Faulty wiring, overloaded circuits and power surges are some causes of electrical fires at home. When encountering an electrical fire, you should remember that you can’t extinguish it with water because it places you and others at risk for electrocution. Use a fire extinguisher that’s rated for electrical fires.

If you’re able to cut the power, do so immediately. Otherwise, leave the area and call 911 right away. Don’t attempt to reenter the building after leaving. Allow firefighters to search for your pets or anyone else in the house who’s unaccounted for.

Downed Power Line

Fallen power lines are dangerous because they transfer electrical current through objects or materials on the ground. It’s possible to be electrocuted simply by coming into contact with water or objects that have carried the current to where you’ve stepped. If you notice a downed power line, stay as far away as you can.

Contact 911 and the local electrical company so that power can be cut to the area. An electrician will come out to assess the problem, repair the power line and restore power.

Electric Shock

It’s common for people to grip onto whatever is electrocuting due to involuntary muscle contractions. As long as someone is holding onto a live wire, electricity will continue to pass through their body. The two things you need to worry about are cutting the power and separating the person from the source of electricity without putting yourself in danger.

You should never touch someone who’s being electrocuted because the electrical current can run through your body too. When trying to get someone else to safety, use insulated materials such as rubber, PVC or wood to protect yourself. Call 911 immediately and, if you’re certified, perform CPR on a victim who has fallen unconscious.

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Short Circuits

Your circuit breaker is designed to prevent short circuits in your home by detecting overloaded circuits and cutting electricity to them automatically. Unfortunately, some power surges can wreak havoc without tripping the breaker. If you notice sparks, flickering lights and humming or hissing sounds, immediately flip the circuit breaker for the affected room.

If you’re not sure which breaker controls the room, flip the main breaker to power off the entire home. Contact your electric company and inform them of the emergency so that an electrician can come out to assess the damage and perform repairs.

Problems With the Circuit Breaker

If you notice that your circuit breaker is tripping frequently, there could be a problem with your home electrical system. The best way to prevent an electrical emergency is to have an electrician diagnose the issue.

Your circuit breaker may need to be replaced because it can’t handle your current power load. The problem may also be located somewhere within your home’s wires. When you need to constantly reset your breakers, it’s time to investigate.

Another potential problem you could encounter with your circuit breaker is a humming or buzzing sound. This signals an issue with the circuit breaker itself.

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Additional Safety Tips

Some additional ways you can prepare for an electrical emergency include:

  • Having the correct type of fire extinguisher in your home and inspecting it annually
  • Upgrading from a fuse box to a circuit breaker if you have an older home
  • Performing annual inspections on your electrical system
  • Refraining from drawing too much power from a single outlet by overloading power strips or using multiple appliances that draw a lot of energy

Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. Systems, equipment, issues and circumstances vary. Follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of the Blog is subject to the

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Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of eLocal Editorial Content is subject to the

Website Terms and Conditions.

The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA's marketing and sales decisions.

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