Five different 9 volt batteries


Did you hear the one about the 9-volt battery that walked into a bar and said to the junk drawer, “c’mon baby light my fire?”

A failed attempt at humor 1, blogger 0.

But hey- pay attention
There is a hidden fire danger in that junk drawer where you throw all the stuff that you need to dispose of later. 

Let’s see what’s in that drawer. You know the one. (We’ll take a look at my drawer first so you aren’t embarrassed to show us yours.) Let’s see what could turn my “good day” into a “bad day.”

Cherry cough drop stuck to the wrapper
Crumpled Kleenex that I’m not sure I’ve used
8 Keys that probably don’t open any locks I have
Five business cards from folks I’m never going to call
Old reading glasses that make me look stupid
27 sheetrock screws from that project I never finished
Brochures from the PTA that I’m never going to read
A used 9-volt battery from the smoke alarm in the kitchen

Do you see the danger? No?

That 9-volt battery has two terminals that you didn’t cover before throwing it in the drawer, lots of metal to complete a circuit (creating a spark), and lots of kindling to turn that spark into a fire.

Let’s look at what could happen in a fictional play:

Act 1
I jerk the junk drawer open in a hurry, looking to see if one of those orphaned keys opens the bicycle lock in the garage.

Act 2
The stuff in the drawer all rattles around and changes places as I slam it shut.

Act 3
I run out to the garage and get lost in all kinds of meaningless and distracting things.

Act 4
Meanwhile, back in the drawer, the 9-volt battery has snuggled up to the remaining keys (in particular, that really good-looking key).

Act 5
The positive and negative terminals (the two posts) on the 9-volt battery are connected by the good-looking key. Sparks fly. The Kleenex are waiting nearby to encourage this romance. Soon, the entire drawer is on fire. But not a good kind of fire. The End.

Cover the posts (terminals) of your 9-volt batteries with duct tape or electrical tape before disposing of them.

Wow. That’s simple. (Did you think it would be hard?)

And before you think this is an Urban Legend, and you “Snopes-Check” it; it’s not an urban myth. Here are a couple of links to check out: Youtube video (3 minutes) reporting on a home fire caused by 9-volt batteries. And this safety brochure from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Be safe. Tape over those old 9-volt batteries.

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(Copyright 2014. Photo courtesy Joe Haupt)