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Beware of Computer Fire Hazards

Computers, monitors, and all electrical devices in your home have the potential to start a fire. NEVER FORGET THIS.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that an average of 360 structure fires per year were caused by computers and peripherals from 1999-2003. There are many more computers in use now than there were then.

Read NFPA's Report on Computer and Computer Peripheral Fires with a Discussion of Batteries

Do NOT Put Computers or Monitors Right Next to Curtains or Paper

Do NOT Leave Computers Running When You Leave Your Home or Business.

Do NOT Block Ventilation Paths for Computer Equipment

For tower computers, the ventilation path is usually through the front of the computer and out the back of the computer.

Hint: If you get your computer up off the floor, even just 2 inches, your computer will draw less dust, dirt, pet hair, etc., into the inside

For laptops/notebooks/netbooks, the ventilation path is usually through the bottom and out the back and/or sides. You would think that the manufacturers would never put a ventilation on the part that sits on your lap, since so many people think they can use them in their laps. Actually, you're not supposed to use them in your lap.

If you use your laptop in bed, be sure to use it with a laptop tray. NEVER use it laying on the sheets or bedding!!! Around 1 out of every 5 computer-related fires happens in the bedroom (see NFPA article above).

Here's what a laptop tray looks like. Shop Around.

Here's a full list of notebook safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

One solution to giving your laptop good air is to put the laptop on a table or desk and put a laptop cooler underneath. You don't have to buy a laptop cooler. You could just prop the back of your laptop up a bit (without blocking vents). But FYI--Laptop coolers are inexpensive. You can find them for under $10.

Even the external modems, such as DSL modems, have a ventilation path.

Do not put papers around your equipment! If sparks fly, papers fry.

Do not stack your equipment. This can often lead to overheating of the bottom equipment.

You can recognize ventilation paths by the slots cut into the tops and sides and bottoms of equipment.

Sometimes fans quit working that are a necessary part of keeping your computer from getting too hot.

Using your built-in analog temperature probe (your hand), feel the back and top of your computer to see if anything feels very hot.

Warm is normal, hot is not.

Anything that feels very hot should be checked by a qualified technician.

It's always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher near your computer. The extinguisher needs to be able to put out Type C fires.

Fire Extinguisher: 101

Also be aware that MANY laptop batteries were recalled over the past years because they can overheat and catch fire. If your laptop runs hot, you might want to check with the manufacturer to see if you have one of those batteries.

Here's an alphabetical list of battery recalls of some of the major brands. If you do not see your manufacturer listed here, check your manufacturer's website.

Acer

Apple

Dell

Hewlett Packard

Fujitsu

Lenovo

Sony

Toshiba

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