Smoke detector battery could spark fire - - The News for South Mississippi

Smoke detector battery could spark fire


Fire officials said the very thing that powers a smoke detector could be the cause of a fire.

It was behind a house fire in Colorado three years ago, one homeowner said.

Dave Miller said dialed for help in 2011 after the blaze broke out. He said investigators later determined that a 9-volt battery he'd tossed into a bag was the cause.

"I should've known better," Miller said. "Everyone is telling me it's not my fault. I understand that but on some level I feel very responsible."

He said no one was hurt battling the fire.

Miller uploaded a video to the website YouTube to help others understand how dangerous the batteries could be if not disposed properly.

"Every 9-volt battery has one particular flaw," he explained, "that is the terminals are particularly close together. The positive and the negative."

Unlike AA or AAA batteries, which have their positive and negative terminals on opposite ends, the 9-volts have their terminals right next to each other. If placed next to a metal object, a spark or fire can occur.

"This is why we recommend not to carry these batteries opened out of this package in your pocket or purse," said Win Sakdinan of Connecticut-based Duracell.

Sakdinan said it's very rare for a battery to spark a fire. However, to avoid possible or potential problems, he offered some advice.

"You just take the battery and very simply take a piece of tape," he said. "It can be masking tape, it can be electrical tape, it can be the hockey stick tape and place it over the terminal so they can't activate."

The battery manufacturer also encourages customers to keep the batteries in their original packaging.

The 9-volts also can come with plastic caps. Sakdinan said those can prevent the batteries from coming into contact with metal that might spark trouble in a kitchen drawer.

"Even coins can activate it, paper clips, a nail," he said.

That may have been a costly lesson for Miller's family, but he hoped it was one other families won't have to learn.

"If the information that we learned can save on person's life, then everything my family has gone through is worth it," said Miller.

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