26 Oct Why Is Electrical Safety Important?
Strangely enough, electrical safety is often underappreciated and underestimated, both at the workplace and at home. According to statistics published by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), in 2016, 660 electrical fires were reported. This makes electrical fire the 3rd most identifiable cause of residential or commercial fires.
Given the frequency of and potential devastation that electrical fires can cause, it is an issue that demands more attention. In this article, we will be covering the causes of electrical fires, other electrical hazards and what should be done to prevent them.
Causes of Electrical Fires
Referring to the same study done the SCDF, the following factors were listed as causes for electrical fires:
- 42% lighting & wiring
- 28% circuit breakers & switches
- The remaining 30% were attributed to electrical appliances, vehicles and other factors
We shall thus be focusing on the top two causes for electrical fires.
Lighting & Wiring Based Electrical Fires
Electrical fires that break out from lighting and wiring occur when the current in their circuits exceed the safety limit. Usually, the electrical current in the circuits are not sufficient to generate the level of heat required for an electrical fire outbreak.
However, once the safety limit is exceeded, the large amounts of heat generated allows the temperature to exceed the melting point of the wires, lighting or their surrounding materials.
An occurrence that allows for this phenomenon is that of short circuits. Short circuits enable the exponential increase in circulating current in the circuit. This is due to the opening of an alternate path in the circuit with lower electrical resistance. In doing so, the overall amount of current in the circuit can jump since electricity now has a path of lesser resistance to travel through.
Enablers of short circuits include contact of a live wire with the following:
- Water is an excellent conductor of electricity with minimal resistance
- Another live wire. This event occurs when the insulation of the wire has worn out sufficiently to expose the live wire.
- A metal object or any other good conductor of electricity.
Circuit Breakers & Switches
Circuit breakers and switches are failsafe devices that your home’s electrical circuit relies on. They operate by cutting off electricity when the amount of current in the circuit exceeds the safety limits. Once this happens, what we commonly refer to as a “blackout” occurs. Since the flow of electricity in the circuit is stopped, your lights and other electrical appliances are forced to power down.
To reenable the flow of electricity, you simply would need to reset the circuit breaker. Before doing so, we advise that you turn off all switches while also taking care to slowly switch them back on after enabling electricity.
Going into the technicalities of circuit breakers, they operate based on an electromagnet mechanism. When current in the circuit is large enough, it activates the electromagnet which in turn pulls down the switch. This effectively breaks the circuit and stops all electrical flow. With all current removed, the circuit’s components are given time to cool down and thus prevent an electrical fire from breaking out.
As such, when your home has a defective circuit breaker, it will not shut down dangerous levels of electrical current. This allows for electrical dangers to develop.
The Dangers Posed by Electricity
The main types of electrical injuries are:
- Electric shock
- Burns from fires
An electric shock occurs when your body becomes part of the electric circuit. This is possible as the human body is a conductor of electricity and can be a part of an unbroken electrical path. In fact, it is more conductive of electricity than the ground that we are standing on.
Victims of electrical shock suffer severe and possibly life-altering injuries. A list of possible injuries resulting from the shock include:
- Severe burns
- Cardiac arrest
- Brain and/or nerve damage
- Hearing loss
- Respiratory failure
- Loss of kidney function
A key differentiation between electrocutions and electric shocks is death. In an electrocution, the victim would have died as a result of the shock. Common causes of electrocution are:
- Contact with exposed electrical sources such as live exposed wires
- Contact with a downed power line
- Contact with an electrical arc flash
Burns from Electrical Fires
Since there is a risk of electrical fires breaking out, it is likely that people in the vicinity will get burned. Depending on the degree of burn suffered, various subsequent injuries would be suffered by the victims. In addition to the potential harm to people, electrical fires will also surely damage your home. This might leave whole sections of your house completely burned and destroyed.
A less covered hazard from electrical accidents is the possibility of going blind from an arc flash. An arc flash is a type of explosion that occurs due to a rapid increase in temperature and pressure between electrical conductors. When this happens, the resulting flash might be strong enough to blind victims in the immediate vicinity.
In addition to producing a blinding light, pressure waves, shrapnel and fires do pose a serious threat to both life and property.
Preventing Electrical Accidents
There are many different precautions that can be taken to prevent electrical accidents. Here are the top actions that we recommend following:
- Avoid attempting DIY electrical work without prior training. This includes not performing wiring works for a new space in your home. Instead, do look to engage professional electrical wiring installation services by a trained electrician.
- Do not use worn out or damaged electrical equipment. For example, worn out wires or burnt power sockets should be replaced.
- Regularly check on the status of your circuit breaker. In the event of a black out and an inability to flip the breaker on, call for emergency electrical services to help rather than forcing it.
- When managing wires, use tape rather than nails or staples in order to prevent physical damage to them.
- Ensure the combined power demanded from your electrical appliances do not exceed the safety limit of your circuit.
- Be highly wary of excessively hot wires or power sockets. Major symptoms of a possible oncoming electrical accident include sparks and smoke.
- Keep the circuit’s components away from water.
Engage Our Yi Ling Service Team To Assist You
With over 30 years of experience, Yi Leng Service is a specialist in electrical works, cable solutions, TV brackets, and mounting. Our experience has proven to be an invaluable asset in our expertise and services provided to clients in all aspects of installation, maintenance, and repair works.
At Yi Leng Service, all our services are carried out by licensed & skilled electricians that will do a reliable job that comes with warranty. Feel free to contact us for reliable electrician services.