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What is considered an electrical emergency?

2nd Jul '23 • By Service.com.au

When electrical systems malfunction or break down, it can lead to dangerous situations that need immediate attention.

Electrical emergencies are not only inconvenient but can also pose a serious threat to the safety of people and property, so understanding what they are can help you act quickly and prevent potential damage or harm.

An electrical emergency can be defined as any situation that involves a sudden or unexpected electrical malfunction, damage, or danger. They can range from minor issues such as a flickering light or tripped circuit breaker to more severe problems such as electrical shocks, fires, or explosions. In general, electrical emergencies should be addressed as soon as possible by a licensed emergency electrician or emergency services personnel.

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Common Electrical Emergencies

Here are some common situations that are considered electrical emergencies:

Power Outages 

While power outages can occur for various reasons such as weather events or power grid failures, they can also be caused by faulty electrical systems. If you experience a sudden power outage in your home or business, it’s important to first check with your local utility provider to see if it’s a widespread issue. If the outage is isolated to your property, it may be due to a tripped circuit breaker or faulty wiring. In this case, emergency electrician services can help diagnose and fix the issue.

Electrical Shocks

Electrical shocks can occur when a person comes into contact with an electrical current. These shocks can range from mild to severe and can cause burns, muscle contractions, or even cardiac arrest. If someone experiences an electrical shock, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. It’s also crucial to ensure that the source of the electrical current is turned off before attempting to help the injured person.

Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are a common cause of house fires and can be a result of faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, or damaged appliances. If you smell smoke or see flames coming from an electrical outlet or appliance, you should turn off the power source and call the fire department immediately. Don’t attempt to put out the fire yourself, as this can be dangerous.

Overloaded Circuits 

Overloaded circuits occur when too many electrical devices are plugged into a single outlet or circuit, causing the circuit to trip. While this is a common occurrence, it can also be dangerous as it can lead to electrical fires or damage to electrical systems. If you experience frequent circuit tripping, it may be a sign of faulty wiring or a need for additional circuits. In these scenarios, a licensed electrician can assess the situation.

Damaged Wiring 

Damaged wiring can be caused by a variety of factors, including pests, natural wear and tear, or DIY renovations. It can lead to electrical shocks, fires, or power outages, and should be addressed immediately. Signs of damaged wiring include flickering lights, sparking outlets, or burning smells. 

Electrical Shock from Appliances 

Electrical appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, or washing machines can pose a risk of electrical shock if they’re not properly grounded or maintained. If you experience a shock from an appliance, you should turn off the power source and unplug the appliance immediately, then get the appliance assessed and repaired.

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How to Prevent an Electrical Emergency

Electrical emergencies can be unpredictable, but there are several steps you can take to prevent them from occurring in the first place. We suggest to:

  • Avoid overloading circuits: Overloading circuits can lead to electrical fires, power outages, or damage to electrical systems. To help prevent this, make sure you spread out electrical devices across multiple outlets and circuits. Consider installing additional circuits if you find that they’re frequently tripping.
  • Use electrical devices safely: Electrical devices should be used in accordance with manufacturer instructions and safety guidelines. Avoid using damaged or frayed cords, and don’t plug too many devices into a single outlet. Unplug electrical devices when they’re not in use to prevent them from overheating or causing electrical shorts.
  • Practice safe DIY electrical work: DIY electrical work can be dangerous and should be avoided unless you have the proper training and knowledge. If you need electrical work done, hire a licensed electrician to ensure that the work is done safely and up to code.
  • Properly maintain electrical appliances: Electrical appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers should be properly maintained to prevent electrical malfunctions. Regularly clean and inspect appliances, and replace them if they are damaged or outdated.
  • Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs): GFCIs are designed to prevent electrical shocks and should be installed in areas where water is present, such as kitchens and bathrooms. GFCIs can detect electrical imbalances and shut off the power source before an electrical shock occurs.
  • Have regular electrical inspections: Regular electrical inspections can help identify potential electrical hazards and prevent them from becoming emergencies. 

As you can see, electrical emergencies can range from minor issues to severe situations that require immediate attention. It is important to understand what constitutes an electrical emergency and to take appropriate action to prevent the potential dangers. If you experience an electrical emergency, stay calm, turn off the power source, and call a licensed electrician. 

If you’re in doubt about whether a situation is classed as an electrical emergency, it is best to err on the side of caution and get in touch with a professional.

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