Electrical Safety During the Holidays: Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 of this blog series, we spoke about the proper work practices, understanding specialized equipment, and implementing lockout/tagout procedures for electrical safetyThe last guideline when working with or around electricity is being prepared if something were to go wrong.

Emergency Actions

If emergency conditions caused by faulty electrical equipment arise, they must be addressed immediately. 

There are two steps to take in the following order:
1. Extinguish any threat to human safety or human life.
2. Address threats to equipment and other materials.

Human Involvement

When a person becomes the path of least resistance for an electric current, they must first be separated from the source of voltage. This is best accomplished by turning off the power to the circuit involved. Opening a circuit breaker or throwing a switch may be all that is required.

However, if the circuit can't be deenergized, the person must be removed from contact with the source. Under no circumstances should you, the rescuer, attempt to touch the person receiving the shock. You too could become part of the circuit. Instead, use an insulating material such as dry wood or dry rope to push or pull the person away from contact with the energized equipment.

Once the person has been separated from the energy source, first aid measures must be taken. The first step is to call for help. Phone 911 or another appropriate emergency contact number. 

Fire or Explosion Involvement

When an electrical fault results in a fire or explosion, the first action is to contact the appropriate emergency response personnel. This may involve calling the local emergency contact point at your electrical plant. If possible, turn off the power to the equipment involved. Often, simply opening the circuit will cause the fire to go out. If you are trained to do so, you may attempt to put the fire out using an appropriate extinguishing agent.

Electrically energized fires, designated Class C fires, require a nonconducting extinguishing agent such as carbon dioxide. Dry-chemical fire extinguishers can also be used on electrical fires. When faced with an electrical fire, you must use only an extinguisher specified for Class C fires. Keep in mind, though, that once the power to the burning electrical equipment has been shut off, it is no longer a Class C fire, and other extinguishing agents may be used.

Even if you aren't working with electricity on the job, it is important to remember these emergency procedures and the signs for a potential accident. With the holiday season in full swing, it's necessary to remember all of the safety practices and procedures discussed in this series when working with electricity.

This article is the last of a three part series, and is adapted from BOMI International's Electrical Systems and Illumination course, part of the SMA® and SMT® designation programs. More information regarding this course is available by calling 1.800.235.2664. Visit BOMI International’s website, www.bomi.org.


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