Electrical Fires & Arc Faults
Electrical fires are one of the leading causes of home fires. And while things like faulty wiring, overheating appliances, misuse of extension cords and heating units, and even faulty light fixtures are most often the cause, it's important to note that the underlying cause is most often arc fault conditions. The National Fire Protection Agency and the National Association of State Fire Marshals, estimate that 50 to 75 percent of all electrical home fires in the United States are caused by arc fault conditions. An arc fault is a high power discharge of electricity between two or more conductors. This discharge creates heat, which can break down the insulation covering wires and trigger and electrical fire.
So while it's important to take precautions like not overloading electrical outlets, inspecting appliance cords for damage, keeping combustible materials away from heat sources, and watching for signs of faulty wiring like switches that crackle or lights that dim, it's also a good idea to install arc fault circuit interrupters where appropriate. While conventional circuit breakers respond to short circuits and overloads, arc fault circuit interrupters, detect an electrical arc and break the circuit if one is detected. Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters are selective. Normal arcs do not cue them to trip. Their circuitry continuously monitors the electrical current and discriminates between normal and unwanted arcing conditions.
Kitchen Grease Fire
Your home’s kitchen is where heat, electricity, water, and grease come together. It’s no wonder, kitchen fires are the number one cause of home fires. And the most common type of kitchen fire is a grease fire. A grease fire is extremely dangerous as it can get out of control quickly and spread from the stove throughout the kitchen and other rooms of the house.
There are two common types of grease fires in the kitchen. One is in the cooking pan itself and the other is under the burner in the drip pan. Often, drip pan fires result from previous cooking sessions. When something is spilled into the drip pan it cannot be cleaned until the burner and the stove has cooled. It’s not uncommon for people to forget to go back and clean the drip pan, setting themselves up for trouble the next time they cook.
Here are some tips for preventing kitchen grease fires:
- Before cooking anything, make sure the burner is cool and wipe up any spills in the drip pan and around the burner before turning on the heat.
- The most common reason for a grease fire is leaving a hot pan unattended. Keep your eye on all pans while cooking.
- Pay attention to heat ratings for cooking oil. Some oils can be heated more than others before catching fire. If you are cooking and the oil starts to smoke, it is too hot. The flash point of a grease fire is 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease will smoke furiously before it ignites, so if you notice smoke, turn down the heat immediately.
- Keep cookbooks, towels, paper towels and anything combustible away from the stove. A grease fire can quickly turn into a bigger fire if it catches onto other combustibles.
- Avoid heating grease before putting food into it. Food can fall quickly into the grease and make it splash out, causing grease burns to you or hitting the heat source and catching fire.
- When deep frying, use a pan or cooking container designed for deep frying that will allow equal space of the grease and food contents above what you are frying. For example, if you are cooking chicken and the grease and chicken are three inches deep, the pan sides should be at least six inches deep.
- Have a class ABC fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Experts recommend having at least three fire extinguishers in your home; in the kitchen, garage and main living area.
- If a pan does catch fire, the best thing to do is smoother it, by using an oven mitt and placing a lid on top of the pan or by using a fire extinguisher. NEVER throw water on the fire or try to run it to the sink or outside.
And if a kitchen grease fire does get out of control, resulting in damage or odor to your home, our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton are here to help. We can clean your home "Like it never even happened."