How to prevent fire or accident from electricity, what are the measures to reduce the damage

Electricity is a wonderful and very important invention for human beings. It has a special role in the rapid development of science and technology.

At present, our daily life is unimaginable without electricity. But electricity, which is a boon for human beings, sometimes becomes a curse due to general negligence.

According to the Kathmandu Metropolitan Fire Department, out of 305 fire incidents in Kathmandu in the last fiscal year, 178 were due to power outages, 21 were due to gas leakage and the remaining 114 were due to other reasons.

In other big cities and industrial areas also, reports of fires or accidents due to electricity keep coming from time to time.

How does electricity cause fire or accident?
Fires caused by electricity are usually referred to as ‘shirts’. But fires are rare due to electric shorts.

An electric short circuit is an excessive flow of current that occurs when two wires carrying electricity are connected to each other without any obstruction. This produces a large amount of heat and causes fire. But the phenomenon of two wires connecting to each other is only an exception.

Electric light
Two things are generally indispensable for electrical fires – overheating of the wire carrying the electric current and having flammable material near it.

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For a conductor to be overheated, there must be excessive current flow or the inhibitory capacity of the conductor must be high.

OCPD (Over Current Protective Devices) like MCB, MCCB are connected to reduce accidents due to high current flow. But in some cases these devices do not work and cause fires or other accidents.

What are the major causes of fires and accidents caused by electricity?

Using old and unused equipment can cause electrical contact points to loosen and ignite or ignite.
When the heater is on for a long time, the outside conductor may catch fire due to overheating or carelessness.
If more electricity flows in a conductor or equipment than its maximum capacity, it will generate heat and catch fire
When the appliance is connected to the electrical plug or turned on and off, a spark of fire is emitted. If there is a flammable substance nearby, there may be a fire and an explosion
Many electrical appliances in the home or office are connected from one place with the help of electrical extension plugs. But it does not focus on the maximum capacity it can support. As a result, fires are caused by excessive loads
The quality of conductors and safety conductors used in very old wiring is deteriorating and their ability to carry current or heat is reduced and fires occur.
The ability of any conductor to carry current depends on its conductivity, size and so on. International standards have determined the thickness of wires of different conductors (copper or aluminum) according to the amount of current. Using low-thickness wires or non-standard equipment can cause a fire
Large electrical accidents caused by small errors

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The role of earthing in a low voltage system is usually to protect the equipment and prevent other accidents by providing a simple and low impedance path in case of sudden increase in electrical current or voltage and leakage of electricity. Without earthing, accidents can happen naturally. But even when earthing is done, unscientific or incorrect practice of earthing or using substandard materials can lead to accidents when earthing is not effective.
‘Falloop obstruction’ is a topic that is less talked about. But there are many accidents or fires that can cause this.
It has been found that even the technical manpower has little knowledge on this subject. If the earthing obstruction is high, the electrical path to be completed by the leaking current is called ‘faultloop’.

Due to the high obstruction of such route, more current devices like MCB do not ‘trip’ and cause fire. This can be a problem for sensitive devices, especially MRIs and CT scans

Teku’s fire
Photo source, SHRIRAM SHARMA
There is very little discussion about ‘electronic surge’ in Nepal. Even some electrical engineers have been found to be ignorant. An electrical surge is a sudden surge of electrical current or voltage.
Its main source is lightning. Such a surge occurs even when the switch is turned on and off. The duration of a surge is usually very short, ranging from a few nanoseconds (one billionth of a second) to a few hundred microseconds (one millionth of a second).

Devices like the MCB, which take longer to respond, cannot stop this because the MCB will not know until the surgeon has damaged our equipment. Surge-immune equipment should be used to prevent surgery, which is rarely practiced in Nepal.

The fire in Subisu
Image source, RSS
Image caption,
File photo

In order for an electric current to flow in a conductor, there is an unequal voltage between its two partsNo, current does not flow if the voltage is the same.
Under normal circumstances electrical devices work well with the help of two wires (phase and neutral), but in case of electrical disturbance the voltage of one part or device tends to be high and the other part low.

In such a case an accident or fire can occur when current flows from one part or device to another. In order to reduce such accidents, the same voltage has to be ‘bonded’. Such bonding is not practiced in Nepal and electrical accidents are on the rise.

How to prevent fire and accident?
From this list, it can be understood that electrical accidents are more likely to be due to reasons other than electric shorts.

The first seven of the above-mentioned reasons can be used to reduce the number of accidents by taking only simple precautions. But expert technicians are needed to reduce accidents caused by the last four causes.

But they are the cause of most fires and other electrical accidents. Research shows that these are the main causes of fires even in developed countries.

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According to a recent study by the National Fire Protection Association, an American electricity standard setting, more than 50% of home fires in the United States are caused by electrical disturbances.

67% of these fires are caused by wiring.

The main reasons for this are the last four mentioned above.

Starting video caption,
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Lightning can cause many accidents other than fires. However, he has not been audited.

It is not uncommon for electrical equipment to be damaged, completely destroyed, malfunctioning, and to cause mutilation and death of people due to electrical shocks.

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However, most of the public and government bodies are not concerned about the possible adverse effects on public health due to the malfunction of the equipment used in health tests due to electrical faults and the erroneous results that can be given by those devices.

For example, if an MRI machine performs unnecessary surgery due to an electrical fault, the patient, the physician, and the hospital may suffer unexpected damage.

It is said that the risk has also increased due to unmanaged electrification
Image source, GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,
It is said that the risk has also increased due to unmanaged electrification

What are the measures to reduce the damage?
The main way to reduce the damage caused by electrical disturbances is to spread awareness among the people and stakeholders by using expert technicians and to address the above mentioned causes with priority.

For this, two things need to be done.

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First, the connection of electricity in the buildings must comply with national and international standards. Failure to do so will result in penalties.

Second, just as regular health checks are done to find out the health of a person or financial audits are done to find out the financial management of an organization. To arrange

By not doing so, we may be unknowingly setting up an electrical trap for our private or public buildings and public spaces.

Presentational gray line
Dr. Sharma is the chairman of the South Asia Lightning Network and Dr. Dhungel is a member of the same organization. This article is based on the study and experience of the two authors.

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