How to Safely Extinguish an Electrical Fire

how to put out an electrical fire


Electrical fires can be particularly dangerous due to the risk of electric shock and the potential for rapid, uncontrolled spread. Knowing how to respond in such a situation is essential for personal safety and property preservation. In this article, we will discuss the steps to safely extinguish an electrical fire, while emphasizing the importance of following safety protocols.

Immediate Response

The first and most crucial step when you encounter an electrical fire is to remain calm and act quickly. Your immediate response can make all the difference in preventing a minor incident from escalating into a catastrophic one. Follow these steps

a. Alert Others: Shout for help and make sure others in the vicinity are aware of the fire. Call 911 immediately to ensure professional assistance is on the way.

b. De-energize the Source: If safe to do so, disconnect the power source to the affected circuit. This might involve shutting off a circuit breaker, unplugging an appliance, or turning off the main electrical panel.

Extinguishing Methods

Once you’ve ensure your safety and that of others, consider these methods to extinguish the electrical fire

a. Fire Extinguisher: An ABC-rated fire extinguisher is the best tool for safely extinguishing an electrical fire. Ensure you have the appropriate fire extinguisher on hand, and follow the P.A.S.S. technique – Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep from side to side.

b. Non-Conductive Material: If a fire extinguisher is not readily available, you can use a non-conductive material to smother the fire. Suitable options include a heavy blanket, non-flammable cloth, or even baking soda. Gently cover the flames and avoid using water, as it conducts electricity.

c. Sand: Dry sand can be used to smother small electrical fires. Sprinkle it generously over the flames until they are extinguished. Avoid using wet sand, as it can conduct electricity.


If the fire is too large to handle with the available resources, if it continues to grow, or if you are unsure about your safety, prioritize evacuation. Follow these steps

a. Close Doors: As you exit the room or building, close all doors behind you to contain the fire and limit its oxygen supply.

b. Use Exit Routes: Always use the nearest, safest exit routes. Avoid using elevators during a fire, as power loss or malfunction can leave you trapped.

c. Assemble at a Safe Location: After exiting, gather at a predetermined assembly point to ensure everyone is accounted for and safe.

Safety Precautions

Understanding safety precautions is crucial when dealing with electrical fires

a. Never Use Water: Water is a conductor of electricity, and using it to extinguish an electrical fire can result in electric shock or a more extensive fire. This is a fundamental rule to remember.

b. Avoid Metal Tools: Do not use metal tools or objects to interact with electrical equipment during a fire. Metal conducts electricity and can lead to shock or even cause the fire to spread.

c. Do Not Touch the Victim: If someone is experiencing electrical shock, do not touch them with bare hands. Use a non-conductive object, such as a wooden broomstick, to gently push them away from the source of electricity.

d. Maintain Distance: Keep a safe distance from the fire, ensuring that you are not at risk of being exposed to hazardous fumes or falling debris.

Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than cure. Take the following measures to reduce the risk of electrical fires

a. Regular Maintenance: Ensure that electrical systems and appliances are regularly inspected and well-maintained. Replace damaged cords, switches, or outlets promptly.

b. Avoid Overloading Circuits: Do not overload electrical circuits by plugging in too many devices. Use surge protectors to safeguard your equipment.

c. Proper Wiring: If you’re not an expert, consult a professional electrician for any wiring installations or modifications to ensure they meet safety standards.

d. Keep Flammable Materials Away: Keep flammable materials, such as curtains, papers, and chemicals, away from electrical equipment.


Can you use flour to put out an electrical fire?

If you can’t find anything to extinguish the fire, throw baking soda at the base of the flame. If the fire is in your kitchen, do not throw flour on the blaze! A canister of flour can usually be found in any kitchen, but flour is considered to be a conductor of electricity as well as being flammable.

What Cannot be used to put out electrical fire?

As water and foam have the ability to conduct electricity, even after the power source has been cut off, you should not attempt to apply water or foam extinguishers to the flames. Carbon Dioxide and dry powder fire extinguishers are the only types of fire extinguishers recommended for tackling electrical fires safely.


Knowing how to safely extinguish an electrical fire is a critical skill that can prevent disasters and save lives. Responding calmly, using the right tools, and understanding safety precautions are key to managing such emergencies. Remember that electrical fires can be unpredictable, so prioritizing your safety and the safety of those around you is of utmost importance. Always follow safety guidelines and, when in doubt, evacuate and let professional firefighters handle the situation.

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