Identifying Electrical Emergencies

Electricity is something that we’ve become quite used to in the modern world. We use it for many things in residential and commercial situations, such as charging our phones, powering our lights and appliances, and cooking food. It also keeps medical devices, street lights, and other life-saving equipment running.

Electricity is so common nowadays that many of us take it for granted.

Still, electricity is dangerous. In fact, it can even kill.

This is why it’s important to be aware of what we all need to do to contribute to electrical safety – at work, at home, and in public spaces. Poor wiring and faulty appliances can quickly lead to electrical emergencies, and we should all know what to do when these emergencies arise.

Types of Electrical Emergencies

Power Failures and Blackouts

A power outage or blackout is a temporary loss of electrical power to a particular area. This area can be as small a single house, or as large as an entire city. Power failures and blackouts can be caused by storms, by chance, or by utility work. In the case of larger outages, issues can arise at power stations and affect transmission lines to a vast number of homes and businesses. While they are an inconvenience to homeowners, they are not necessarily a danger. Keep candles and flashlights handy so that you can avoid tripping or injuring yourself until the power returns. In most cases, institutions like hospitals, aged care and shelters will have a standby generator that immediately kicks in when power is lost.

Fallen Power Lines

The same can’t be said for fallen power lines. When power lines fall to the ground while still live, they pose an immediate danger to people and property and should be dealt with as quickly as possible. Fallen power lines can be caused by violent storms, car accidents, and downed trees. Even if these lines do not appear to be live (still conducting electricity), it is crucial that you stay as far away from the line and any objects in contact with it as possible. If you notice a downed power line, contact your city police, fire department, or a service professional immediately.

Meter Box Issues

Meter boxes are where your power supply is separated into the various parts of your home. This includes lighting, wall sockets, and appliances in different rooms or “circuits” of the house. Each circuit has its own breaker, which can be blown or tripped in the event of an overload.

Under normal circumstances, these boxes do not make any noise. However, certain issues can cause a buzzing sound or hum. These issues are usually not dangerous, but you don’t necessarily want to go poking around in there. Instead, it’s best to call a professional and have them take a look. We can replace your switchboard to keep your premises safe, even if there was no buzzing. If it is old, it’s best to replace to keep things safe.

Electrical Circuit Overload

Electrical circuits are designed to handle a specific amount of electricity. When they draw more than that amount, it can result in an overload. As we mentioned, your home or business will have a meter or breaker that divides the electricity provided into circuits or fuses.

Each circuit will power a limited number of lights, appliances, and other electrical items. If you attempt to power too many at once, you can overload it. In most cases, the breaker will simply “trip,” cutting off electrical supply to that area. In other cases, you might notice:

In the event of a tripped breaker, you can unplug some devices and attempt to replace the fuse. If you notice burning or scorching of any kind, it’s a good idea to call a professional and get advice on what to do next.

Electrical Fires

Electrical fires can be caused by faulty outlets or appliances, bad wiring, and circuit breaker issues. In these cases, the electricity that is supposed to be contained in the wires is exposed to the surrounding areas, generating heat that can ignite insulation, drywall, and wood. Unlike traditional fires, you cannot use water on an electrical fire, as you might end up being electrocuted. Instead, use a fire extinguisher and immediately call the fire department. Electrical fires often start within walls and can spread quickly while remaining largely out of sight.

Electric Shock

As we mentioned above, electrical shocks can range from minor injuries to potentially life-threatening medical emergencies. They can be caused by downed power lines, frayed cords, bad extension leads, and electrical appliances being introduced to water. The person who receives the shock might be knocked unconscious, have breathing difficulties, or suffer burns on their body. In these cases, we need to take swift action and contact emergency services as quickly as possible. That said, even if the shock does not appear to be severe, it is always a good idea to seek medical attention.

Preparing for Emergencies

Every home and business owner has an obligation to be prepared in the event of an emergency, electrical or otherwise. This means having a sufficient number of fire extinguishers on hand, and ensuring that those extinguishers are well-maintained and up-to-date. They should also post emergency contact numbers and emergency escape routes in prominent places.

As highly experienced electricians, our team is familiar with all types of electrical issues, and are well-accustomed to solving various problems that can result in an emergency situation.

If you feel you have an electrical emergency, feel free to contact us immediately.

We’d like to recognise the traditional owners of the beautiful Bay Coast area, the Walbanga people of the Yuin nation.