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Electrical emergencies, by their very nature, tend to be unexpected. After all, if we knew they were coming, they wouldn’t be emergencies because we could deal with it in advance. Still, though they may be unexpected, it is still crucial to electrical problems fixed as soon as possible, which is why emergency electricians exist.
Electrical problems are often something innocuous like an appliance not working. Perhaps a breaker trips and your lights no longer turn on. These situations—while undoubtedly inconvenient—are not especially serious. But there are bigger electrical problems that can emerge.
For example, any kind of electrical fire will need dealing with as quickly as possible. And, while you might need the assistance of the fire brigade to put the fire out (assuming a fire extinguisher isn’t up to the task), you will need an electrician to fix the source of that fire before you can get your electricity back on. We’ll take a look at some examples of electrical emergencies in the next section.
Emergency electricians are usually available around the clock—which makes sense as an electrical emergency can happen any time—and, as such, they are only to be called upon for electrical problems that are of the utmost importance. We gave the example above of your lights going out. This is undoubtedly an inconvenience, but it might not necessarily be considered an emergency.
There is rarely a clearly defined list of situations that qualify as an emergency, but one of the factors determining this is the cost. Emergency electricians have to be available at unsociable hours, and, because of this, cost more. Often at least twice as much as the standard rate from the same electrician would be. This results in a kind of self-policing approach to electrical emergencies since homeowners will weigh up whether the problem is enough of an emergency that it’s worth paying that higher rate for, or whether it can wait until the morning.
Many electrical emergencies are subjective. For example, a young couple who lose all power in their home will obviously want the problem fixing, but they can probably make do until regular business hours. On the other hand, a person who relies on a stairlift to get up and down their stairs would need a power outage dealing with as soon as possible as they would be effectively stranded up or downstairs until it was fixed.
That being said, here are some examples of electrical problems where you should almost certainly get them looked at straight away.
The purpose of your breaker box is to cut power to certain parts of your electrical system when there is a problem, such as a short circuit. This should prevent anyone from being injured, since the breaker will stop the electrical current from getting anywhere it might be able to harm someone.
If there is a humming or buzzing noise coming from it, it could be that a breaker is trying to trip off and a fault is preventing it. This, in turn, means somewhere in the home could be electrified, and a serious health risk.
This one doesn’t take much imagination to get your head around. If your outlet smells of burning or has smoke pouring out of it, there is either a fire in there, or there very soon will be. Immediately cut the power to the area—or all of the power if necessary—and call an emergency electrician. Have an appropriate fire extinguisher at the ready in case there is a fire, and it manages to spread. Remember; do not use water on electrical fires.
It should go without saying that any electrical fault that causes a fire is one that needs immediate attention. This one is a little different, however, because your first call should not be to your electrician, but to the emergency services. You will have to make a few judgment calls here, but you should know that electrical fires can spread remarkably fast, so the best course of action is usually to get your loved ones to safety before doing anything else and then calling the fire brigade. Then, if you can, cut the electricity. Finally, and only if you have already called the fire brigade, got everyone to safety, and cut the power, you can think about tackling the fire with an extinguisher but only if it is safe to do so. A small fire that could be realistically extinguished can be tackled (again, no water!) but if the fire has spread beyond the small area which it started in, just stay clear and wait for the professionals.
As we mentioned above, a power outage itself may not be considered an emergency depending on your personal circumstances. That being said, if the power outage only affects your property, there may be bigger problems that necessitate immediate action, such as the problems with the breaker box we mentioned earlier.
Don’t Just Sit There Waiting For The Electrician, Make Sure You Follow These Steps…
When you need an emergency electrician, calling them is straightforward enough, but should you be doing anything else? We’ve put together a handy step-by-step list of things you can and should be doing while you wait for the emergency electrician to arrive.
Please bear in mind that these only apply to emergencies where your house is not burning down. If there is a fire, follow the above advice; get everyone to safety and call the fire brigade.
Panicking rarely improves a situation. Worse still, you are far more likely to miss something important if you are panicking. Try to remain calm, and keep your eyes peeled for any important warning signs, such as smoke, burning smells, or buzzing noises.
Assuming it is safe to do so, the absolute first thing you should be doing in the event of an electrical emergency is shutting off the power at your main breaker. This should prevent any further damage from occurring (assuming a fire hasn’t already started) while you wait for the electrician. Then you can unplug all of the electrical appliances. This is especially important if your emergency is a smell or noise, and you are not certain where it was coming from.
It can help to make life as easy as possible for your electrician if for no other reason than their hourly rate is much higher, so you don’t want them taking longer than they need to. If you know where the affected area is, clear of any clutter so that your electrician has plenty of space to work in.
Again, we’re assuming that there is no significant danger from just being in the property here—as there would be from an electrical fire. In that case, getting your family to safety should be the first thing you do. If it’s not that serious, you still want to make sure your loved ones and any pets are kept well clear of the affected area, especially when the electrician is working.
It should go without saying but steer clear of any appliances and other electrical fixtures, even if you have cut the power. This is especially true if the problem is a noise coming from your breaker box, since that would indicate something, somewhere, has shorted.
You should have a fire extinguisher (one that is appropriate for electrical fires) to hand while you wait for your electrician just in case.
Especially if the thing that caused you to call the electrician in the first place was smoke or a burning smell. Another essential item is a flashlight since you should have cut the power by now. Your electrician should have the tools they need for the actual work, of course.
If you have experienced one of the more serious types of electrical incidents—like fires or electrical shock—your first action should of course be to call the emergency services. Once that has been dealt with, however, it is essential that you get an electrician out to look at the problem before any more damage is done. And certainly, before you turn the power on or attempt to use any appliances.
Electrical emergencies are understandably distressing, but the important thing is to remain calm and keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Do not touch anything, and keep a fire extinguisher close at hand while you wait for your electrician. And, of course, in the event of a fire or electrocution, call the emergency services first!
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