Keeping Your Family Safe in an Electrical Emergency
New York City is a city full of historic architecture, as well as the surrounding area. Many buildings are more than 100 years old and have been renovated several times–and some still contain much of their original wiring. Unfortunately, this means many homes and apartments in this area are prone to electrical malfunctions and emergency situations, some of which can be quite dangerous.
An electrical emergency can happen at any time, often without warning–and the onset of cold weather can often trigger electrical issues. As winter approaches, it’s important to be prepared and have a game plan so if you experience an electrical emergency, you know how to make sure your family, children, pets, etc. are protected.
What is an Electrical Emergency?
Loosely defined, an electrical emergency is any unexpected event or situation with your electricity that poses a potential hazard and needs to be dealt with immediately. One obvious example is a power outage (especially one that lasts more than a couple of hours and affects your ability to heat your home, etc.), but there are many other types of electrical emergencies, as well–including such as sparking wires, blown fuses, downed powerlines, overloaded circuits, and even severe weather. Left unattended, electrical emergencies can trigger fires, serious electrical shock, injury, and even death.
Common Signs You Have an Electrical Emergency
The thing about electricity is that it’s not always obvious when something dangerous is happening. To that end, pay close attention if you notice any of the following.
Strange Noises Coming From Your Electrical System
If you hear buzzes, pops, or other sounds coming from your electrical system (especially from the breaker box), this is a sign that something is not right. These noises could be caused by loose wires or faulty components, and they could indicate a serious problem.
Consistently Flickering or Dimming Lights
An occasional light flicker may occur in thunderstorms or when the city’s power grid is being taxed. But if your lights are flickering or dimming regularly, this could be a sign of a power surge, a loose wire, or a faulty component that could spark a fire.
Sparks or Smoke Coming From Electrical Outlets
Sparks and smoke are never good signs–they mean the electrical system is compromised in some way, whether it’s an overloaded circuit, corroded wires, etc. Never ignore this if it happens–a fire or a serious shock could be imminent. Likewise, if you smell burning wires (you’ll know it when you smell it), call 911 and leave the premises as this may mean a fire is already happening behind the walls.
Your Circuit Breakers Keep Tripping
If your circuit breakers are tripped regularly, this could be a sign of an overloaded or short circuit, possibly caused by compromised or corroded wiring, or possibly from power surges coming from outside the home. Circuit breakers are meant to disrupt the electrical current to prevent danger, but if they constantly need resetting, it’s a sign of a problem.
You Have Dead Outlets
If you have outlets that no longer work, don’t just ignore them. It may seem benign, but a dead outlet could be a sign of loose or corroded wiring that could be creating sparks that you don’t know about.
Tips for Keeping Your Family Safe in an Electrical Emergency
If you detect that there’s an electrical emergency in your home, taking quick action could save your life and the lives of your family. If you smell smoke or burning wires, get everyone out immediately. You should have a fire exit plan in place (if you don’t, make one). Now is the time to use it. Get kids and pets out of the house or apartment and call 911.
If you detect any of the other signs of an electrical emergency (e.g., dead outlets, flickering lights, outages), take these steps to stay safe:
- Keep kids and pets away from affected power outlets. Your outlets pose the biggest danger of shock and fire. Until you’ve fixed the problem, steer clear of these places.
- Cut the power to the affected area. Disrupting the electrical current is the best way to stop fire or shock from happening. If it’s a localized problem like a single outlet, cut off the power at the breaker box. If it’s consistent throughout the house or the box itself is humming, cut off all the power at the box.
- Leave the house if you don’t think it’s safe. Better to err on the side of caution than to risk your family being harmed in an electrical fire. Call 911 for the fire department if you are concerned a fire is imminent.
- Call a certified, licensed electrician to make repairs. Once you’ve gotten your family out of immediate danger, it’s time to hire an experienced professional to evaluate the problem and make repairs. Never try to repair an electrical problem yourself.
At Apollo Electric, we’ve been serving the electrical needs of the Tri-State area for more than 25 years. All our technicians are licensed and OSHA-certified, and our service division is available 24/7 to deal with any electrical emergencies. Reach out to us here for more information, or for 24/7 service, call us at 332-900-9856.