Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fire Dept Tips on How to Store 9V Batteries

I realize that this sounds like it would be a no-brainer, but apparently the toss them in a plastic baggy inside my junk drawer method isn't a great idea.  According to an article on Yahoo! News, a family in Amherst, New Hampshire experienced a house fire that was started by a 9-volt battery in a junk drawer.  The New Hampshire Fire Marshall is warning people to re-evaluate what they keep in their junk drawers.
"The potential is there," Londonderry, New Hampshire, Fire Chief Kevin MacCaffrie told CBS News in Boston. "There are a lot of things in a normal junk drawer that do burn, and apparently the ignition source was a 9 volt battery." 
The fire in Amherst was started because of a 9V Battery stored inside a plastic baggy filled with other batteries.  The family said the junk drawer had just been reorganized and also contained spare keys, a lighter, paper clips, eye glass cleaner, and other things that could either cause the battery to spark or the fire to spread.  Thankfully these home owners did not lose everything, but the fire could have been much worse.
"The 9 volt battery rubbed against another battery and ignited the fire," the statement read. The fire spread to Post-It Notes, paper, and other flammable items in the drawer and "produced smoke throughout the first floor of the home." 
The Fire Chief says that if you must keep your regular, rectangular 9 volt batteries in your junk drawer, the best way to prevent them from sparking a fire is to either wrap the ends in electrical tape or keep them in their original packages.  Here's a quote from the article
"When it comes to those regular, rectangular 9 volt batteries, the problem is that both the positive and the negative contact points are on the same end. If those contact points touch a paper clip, a key, or the clip on a pen, it can generate heat; leave it there long enough and it could start a fire.   Chief MacCafferie demonstrated how a paper clip touching the contact points of a 9 volt battery could scorch a square of tissue in minutes. A wad of steel wool glowed orange and set paper on fire in just seconds when it rubbed up against a 9 volt battery." 
Here are a few other reminders from the Los Angeles Fire Dept about several other common household items that can turn into fire hazards:

  • Electrical outlets, when overloaded with extension cords
  • Lithium batteries, when stored in the same place as clothing
  • Clothes dryers, when too much lint gets caught in the vent or filter
  • Space heaters, when placed too close to curtains, sheets, or other flammable materials
  • Overheated laptop computers, when left on soft surfaces (like a bed or a tablecloth)
  • Extra gasoline cans, when stored near dirty rags in the garage
  • Fireplaces, when there is too much soot build-up

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