Captain Obvious to the rescue - CPSC releases tips on how to avoid laptop fires

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

With all the laptops going up in flames recently, the United States government, specifically the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), is given some helpful tips on how to prevent such a catastrophe. While some of the tips are indeed useful, many of the others are painfully obvious and leave us scratching our heads.

The CPSC discourages the use of incompatible computer batteries and chargers, which is very sound advice. Some of the laptop fires have been caused by cheap, off-market batteries rather than factory ones. However, we should add that the vast majority of the fires have come from Sony manufactured batteries that came with the laptop.

What could happen if you don't follow the CPSC's tips...

Just in case you didn't know, the CPSC says laptop batteries can get hot during normal use and recommends that users don't use laptops on their laps. In another further examples of how hard your tax dollars are working, or more aptly not working, the CPSC tell people to not place the computer in hot areas and to not get the computer or battery wet.

Here is the complete list of CPSC tips.

1. Computer batteries can get hot during normal use. Do not use your computer on your lap.

2. Do not use your computer on soft surfaces, such as a sofa, bed or carpet, because it can restrict airflow and cause overheating.

3. Do not permit a loose battery to come in contact with metal objects, such as coins, keys or jewelry.

4. Do not crush, puncture or put a high degree of pressure on the battery as this can cause an internal short-circuit, resulting in overheating.

5. Avoid dropping or bumping the computer. Dropping it, especially on a hard surface, can potentially cause damage to the computer and battery. If you suspect damage contact the manufacturer.

6. Do not place the computer in areas that may get very hot.

7. Do not get your computer or battery wet. Even though they will dry and appear to operate normally, the circuitry could slowly corrode and pose a safety hazard.

8. Follow battery usage, storage and charging guidelines found in the user's guide.