The Tech Herald

Canadian man killed in laptop fire

by Stevie Smith - Aug 27 2009, 20:15

Hope your computer never runs THIS hot. Image: Dominic/Flickr.

Seems you can’t turn on anything electrical these days without facing possible death. Moreover, while iPhone and iPod Touch owners in France and England have recently escaped injuries from their exploding handsets, a man in Canada has recently lost his life due to faulty consumer electronics.

A newly released coroner’s report has revealed that the unnamed 56-year-old man from Vancouver, BC, was killed in a fire earlier in 2009 after his notebook computer ran so hot that it caused his sofa to burst into flames.

The Coroner’s Service of British Columbia, which has not revealed the brand or model of the notebook involved, has said the fire started as a result of the computer’s internal battery overheating.

According to the report, four similar incidents connected to notebook computers have been documented in the district of British Columbia since 2004, although this particular one ranks as the first to result in a fatality.

In an attempt to raise consumer awareness regarding devices that carry lithium-ion batteries, the Coroner’s Office and Fire Commission have offered up the following public safety information:

Always operate on a hard surface that allows ventilation. Soft materials can block the airflow vents and cause it to overheat. If it is not possible to avoid using a soft surface, an optional heat-sink base should be used to maintain cooling.

Always shut down your laptop, even for short periods of time, especially when placed in a carry bag.

Inspect and clean the air vents on a weekly basis. Forced-air dusters can be used to keep the vents clean and free from debris.

Replace any equipment or parts that do not work according to manufacturer specifications and standards.

Using a laptop desk or cooler will prevent you from being burned when using your laptop. A good laptop desk will have large enough vents for allowing air circulation between you and your laptop.

Visit the Health Canada recall listings website at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/index-eng.php or call 1-866-662-0666 to see if a laptop you own, or if you are considering purchasing a second-hand or rebuilt model, has been recalled.

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