Damaged, overloaded, or incorrectly installed or maintained cords, cables, or devices can cause electrical fires. There are a number of steps you can take to minimize the potential for electrical fires and protect yourself as well as others. Here are a few of them:
Do not misuse equipment or operate equipment that is defective or is malfunctioning. Sparks could become an ignition source, causing a flame or combustion of materials nearby. Always keep any type of motorized equipment far away from combustible materials and in locations where there is adequate ventilation.
Extension cords are not be used in a permanent setting. OSHA has indicated that a power strip that is used for surge suppression for computers, printers, or monitors can be used in a continuous manner. The minute something such as a heater, radio, or coffeemaker are plugged into it, it becomes a substitute for permanent wiring and can result in an OSHA citation. Anytime there are extension cords or power strips being used, they should be inspected frequently to make sure they are in good condition and are the proper size and type for the task. Never use a small household extension cord in an industrial setting. This could create an overload situation causing the cord to actually catch on fire. Never place extension cords in high-traffic areas where they can be damaged by foot traffic.
Never overload circuits. If you turn on a device and lights dim or there is a reduced output of the equipment you are using, that is a sign of overloading. Anytime there is a fuse that blows or a circuit that trips repeatedly while in normal use, an inspection for shorts or other faults in the lines must be performed.
Always make sure that all electrical devices and systems are installed properly and meet current electrical code. All electrical devices and equipment must be checked regularly and tested by a certified electrician or someone that is knowledgeable on how to perform the tests. Electrical work should be performed by people that are qualified to do it.
In the workplace everyone that works around electrical equipment should be aware of necessary safety procedures. Specially if there is a requirement for lockout tag out. This plan should be communicated throughout the organization and there should be periodic fire drills to ensure that if an electrical fire were to break out, no one would risk their life trying to extinguish it. Multipurpose fire extinguishers and fire alarms should be throughout the workplace. If fire alarms are not installed there are other methods that can be used to signal when there is a fire. There should be an assigned method to alert all employees when a fire breaks out. Only personnel knowledgeable of how to fight fires should attempt to use a fire extinguisher and only after they are properly trained. No one should attempt to throw water on electrical fire, as water can conduct electricity.