An electrical fire can start small, but spread quickly, especially if the fire is located inside a socket, meaning that the fire can travel through the wall before you are aware of it. These fires also require special measures, because of the unique way in which the fire starts. The first step in dealing with an electrical fire is, of course, prevention, but in the instance that a fire starts in your home or workplace, you should be prepared to take proper measures. As with any fire, if it is growing quickly or looks unsafe, evacuate immediately with household pets and children; leave your belongings behind and never re-enter any type of burning structure until a fire crew says it is safe to do so.
If an electrical fire starts, you should immediately turn off power to the circuit and the rest of the structure. The easiest way to do this is to access the electrical main, cutting power off entirely. Make sure that you know where your circuit box is and that it is readily accessible: never cover it or obscure the path to your circuit breaker. After you have cut power to the fire, spray it with a Class C chemical extinguisher or use baking soda to smother it. Under no circumstances should you use water, as it is a conductor and it may electrocute you. Before restoring power, have a licensed electrician inspect your wiring.
Fire prevention is important and relatively easy, and if you use common sense, you should not have to deal with an electrical fire. Start by never overloading circuits, maintaining appliances and electronics with care, and inspecting your wiring on a regular basis. Frayed or exposed wiring should be replaced to prevent the risk of fire. In addition, you should cut power to your home so that you can open and inspect outlets periodically: look for frayed wiring or singes that suggest an electrical problem. If you do not feel secure inspecting your own wiring, hire a licensed electrician to do it.
Make sure to use appliances responsibly to avoid an electrical fire, and follow directions closely. Never leave any heat producing appliance such as a stove, heater, or electric blanket on while you are out of the house, and always keep a close eye on heaters, using them at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from furniture and curtains. Check your fire detectors at least twice a year, and make sure to cut power to and investigate any appliances which start to smoke, smell strange, or run erratically.