Which Fire Extinguisher Should I Use to Put Out an Electrical Fire?

Surprisingly, baking soda can put out a small, contained fire.

However, it would require a lot of baking soda and your fire may not be contained…

Instead, be prepared with a Class E CO2 fire extinguisher. This will successfully put out an electrical fire originating from appliances, wiring, outlets and circuit breakers and is therefore the best fire extinguisher for an electrical fire.

Find more information about Carbon Dioxide CO2 fire extinguishers here.

CO2 fire extinguishers work by reducing the amount of oxygen available to the fire.

They contain carbon dioxide (CO2) – this is necessary for electrical fires as water or other liquids could make the fire worse.

Carbon Dioxide CO2 Fire Extinguisher

You will see a black strip on the extinguisher with ‘CO2’ clearly printed.

To learn how to use a fire extinguisher refer to our article  “How To Use A Fire Extinguisher – PASS Technique”.

What is a Class E Fire?

Any fires caused by electrical devices or appliances (heaters, switchboards etc.) are classified as Class E fires.

Here are some warning signs you could have an electrical fire:

  • Your circuit breaker keeps tripping
  • A persistent burning smell that you can’t locate the source of
  • Discoloured or burnt outlets or switches

Should you notice any of these, call your electrician immediately to fix the problem.

Class E - Electrical Fire icon

How To Prevent An Electrical Fire

Did you know that many electrical fires are preventable?

Some electrical fires result from appliance failure or wiring problems, but others are caused by mistakes that we make around the home or workplace.

To help reduce the risk of electrical fires, we are going to look at the top 5 causes and what you can do to prevent them.

Electrical fire caused by faulty outlet or wiring

  1. Faulty outlets and appliances


Inspect your outlets. Check for exposed wires and gaps between the outlet and wall around it.

Pay particular attention to those outlets used on a regular basis, such at the kitchen and bathroom. Outlets in these locations should also be installed somewhere that can avoid water.

Replace old appliances. You should never use an appliance that has a worn cord as this can send heat onto other surfaces and cause a fire.  Check these regularly and if you find a fault, change the cord or appliance.

  1. Wiring


Call an expert. Old wiring struggles to handle the number of electrical appliances that are added over time, such as air conditioners and wide-screen televisions.

An electrician will be able to detect and replace old wiring. Ensure they conduct a comprehensive safety check of wiring and outlets.

  1. Light fixtures


Check the maximum recommended bulb wattage. If you choose a light bulb with a higher wattage than this amount, you will increase the risk of electrical fire.

Never go over the recommended wattage for a lamp or light fixture.

  1. Extension cords and power boards


Use sparingly. Extension cords should only ever be used as a temporary solution for minimal plug sockets. Don’t keep appliances plugged into extension cords for a long period of time.

Avoid overloading power boards. Too many appliances in one powerboard can cause a fire.

  1. Space heaters


Keep 3 feet away from surroundings. It’s best to use your heater in the middle of the room, away from other objects that may set on fire. The general rule is 3 ft away from other objects.

Don’t plug into power boards or extension cords. They cannot handle the high energy flow needed for a space heater and can catch fire.

For more ways to ensure electrical safety in your home and workplace please refer to this information pack.

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