The fire danger hiding in your drawers

By Taylor Chartrand
November 23, 2018 - 2:59pm Updated: November 23, 2018 - 7:23pm


Medicine Hat, AB - Although it may not be very common, loose batteries laying around in your 'junk drawer' could potentially spark a fire in your home or garage.

With the holiday season coming up and a lot of the electronics nowadays requiring batteries, this would be a good time to make sure you're safe.

Earlier this week, a post was shared on Facebook of a family that had loose batteries laying around in their kitchen drawer.

"We were awoken to a fire in our kitchen last night (2:30 am) and thankfully, for the smoke alarms, we were able to get out in time," explained Alicia Packwood in her post. "The fire started in the drawer in our kitchen island from 2 batteries that were touching at the male end. The batteries were in a drawer with dish towels, which ended up catching fire."

Like many other people, Packwood said she had always stored batteries this way and didn't realize the danger.

"Please everyone check how your batteries are stored and ensure there are no flammable items close to them. We really just want to use this experience to make sure you store your batteries in a safe way so this doesn’t happen to anyone else!"

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time fires of this nature have been sparked. 

In 2016, a Texas mother kept extra AA and AAA batteries in her vehicle, just in case one of her three boys needed to power one of their toys. 

Early in the morning, Jennifer Buaas heard a car horn going off in her driveway.

Buaas then sent her husband to check on the noise and he found their family Suburban was completely on fire.

After completing their investigation, fire officials determined the AA-batteries got into just the right position and came in contact with the metallic side of some loose DVD's. That then generated enough heat to set scraps of paper in the console on fire.

Medicine Hat Fire Inspector Carter Gramlich said although he's not aware of any cases like these in Medicine Hat, they're not out of the realm of possibility.

"We've heard that batteries can be a potential source of ignition," he explained. "You need to have the perfect environment for it to occur, but it is something that can happen. Homeowners should be aware of that when they're storing their batteries."

Gramlich then offered some safety tips in regards to this specific situation.

"New batteries should be stored in their original packaging until you're ready to use them. When you go to dispose of your batteries, especially 9-volt batteries, you want to make sure you're covering the two ends by wrapping it with tape or putting the plastic cover back on."

Gramlich said when it comes to fire safety, you can never be too cautious.

"It's just another thing to look out for. We want people to be aware of what's in their house."

On the other end of the spectrum, Gramlich added that people should make sure their smoke alarms are in working order.

"Working smoke alarms are vital. As much as we try to prevent fires from happening, they still happen. Having a working smoke alarm in your house is going to give you the opportunity to escape safely before the fire starts to grow."

It is recommended that people check their fire alarms at least once a month.

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