When your home has a problem with the electrical systems, you don't want to wait to have it repaired; what appears to be a minor problem could be a sign of something very dangerous behind your walls, and your home might be at risk for an electrical fire. However, there are some repairs that aren't necessarily an emergency and which might wait until you can make a convenient appointment with an electrician. Note a few things to consider so you know how to tell the difference.
If your home has outside wires that have blown down from a storm, you should call an emergency electrician or even your city services right away. If these wires have broken away from connectors or were struck by lightning, they could now be bare and have active electricity at the end of them. You may not realize that this electricity can be conducted through moisture in the ground, a fence, your patio furniture, and the like, and this creates an immediate hazard.
However, if you have exposed wires inside the home, note where and how they're exposed. Did you pull out old attic insulation and there are wires behind it that you weren't expecting? Did you start to replace a faceplate for an outlet and then realized that you didn't know how to reconnect the old wiring to the new plate? Those situations might not be an emergency if you ensure no one goes near the wires or any of the building materials around it; put off your renovation or other work until you can get an electrician to the home, but chances are these types of situations are not an emergency.
Sparks and smoldering
If you yank a cord from the wall outlet, you might see a spark since you're suddenly disconnecting that circuit of electricity. However, if you simply pull a plug out of the wall smoothly and easily and then see a spark, this often means that there are bare or frayed wires behind the walls and this can be a risk for an electrical fire. This should be checked as soon as possible.
This situation is even more urgent if you see any signs of smoldering from the outlet; if there is black residue along the plugs, this may mean that the building materials behind the plate are already smoldering and may easily start a fire! In those cases it's good to call an emergency electrician to replace the wires right away.