A fire destroys a home. The owner barely gets out alive. The fire department investigation determines that the fire’s place of origin is a kitchen “junk” drawer. The cause? Nine-volt batteries loose in the drawer. A metal object touched the posts of the batteries, causing a short circuit, which created enough heat to start a fire.
These types of fires have made headlines in Colorado, New Hampshire, Kansas, and other places. Some homeowners, like the one pictured below, have launched their own public awareness campaigns, posting video warnings online.
NFPA’s 9-volt battery safety tip sheet warns that it is unsafe to store 9-volt batteries in a drawer near paper clips, pens, coins, or other batteries. This goes for all 9-volt batteries, whether they are recently purchased or have only a weak charge left in them.
Common household items such as steel wool, aluminum foil, and keys should not be stored near 9-volt batteries. If these items touch the two posts, there is a greater risk of a fire starting.
Batteries should be kept in original packaging until ready for use. If loose, keep posts covered with masking, duct, or electrical tape.
Whether we’re changing the batteries on our smoke alarms that use 9-volt batteries or using the batteries for other purposes, it’s important to follow these and the additional precautions the tip sheet provides.
You can read more about 9-volt battery safety and all of our safety tip sheets on the NFPA web site.
by NFPA's Lisa Braxton