How to Prevent Your Desktop or Laptop Fire From Burning Down Your House

Who would think that a laptop could catch fire? The statistics are pretty surprising.

In 2007-2011, there were an estimated 730 reported U.S. home structure fires involving office equipment per year, resulting in:

  • 11 civilian deaths per year
  • 51 civilian injuries per year
  • $28 million in direct property damage per year

Forty-eight percent of the time, a computer was the cause of the fire. So, what causes the fires?

There are three main causes of desktop & laptop fires:

  1. The ignition of wire, cable insulation, or appliance housing/casing
  2. Heat from dust build-up in desktop computers
  3. Overheated laptop batteries

What can you do to prevent computer and laptop fires?

You have to understand some of the things that can cause a computer or laptop fire. We’ll go over a few of them:

1. The ignition of wire or cable insulation or appliance housing/casing

2. Heat

  • Did you know that over time, computers build up dust on heat-generating components inside the computer? As you can imagine, this makes them hotter and hotter. Then, when you combine the heat with a hot room, you know have an environment conducive to a computer fire.

3. Overheated laptop batteries

  • What causes laptop batteries to overheat and cause a laptop fire? When laptops are plugged in, charging, and placed on a flat surface like a bed or a couch cushion, they can get very hot very quickly. When lithium-ion cells reach 302°F, the cell becomes thermally unstable, and flaming gases are released.

What can you do to prevent this from happening? 

  • Use an air conditioner in your room you store your computer
  • Don’t store items on top of your computer
  • Keep the outside computer case vent covers clear of dust bunnies
  • Have your computer cleaned annually

What can you do to prevent overheating the batteries?

  • Always use your laptop on a hard, flat surface like a table or the floor
  • Never block the air vents on the back or sides of the portable computer
  • Invest in a laptop chill pad/cooler
  • Every now and then, check out the laptop’s air vents to remove dust or debris blocking the ventilation
  • Invest in a can of compressed air
  • Never use a laptop power cord or extension cord that is damaged  

Summing Up

Computers are a part of everyday life for many of us. Please use safety measures with electronics so that you don’t have a computer fire in your home. The staff here at InsuranceHub is available to answer any questions you may have about the fire portion of your homeowner’s insurance policy.

If you need to get a home insurance quote, we would be happy to help. Just give us a call or fill out our online form.