September 07, 2012

Your Laptop Could Start a Fire: Laptop Do’s and Don’ts

“A couple lost their 25 year old son in a fire at home on June 4th. The son who had graduated with MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison two weeks earlier had come home for a while. He had lunch with his dad at home and decided to go back to clean up his hostel room. His father told him to wait, to meet his mother, before he went back for a few days. He decided to take a nap while waiting for his mom to come back home from work. Sometime later their neighbors called 911 when they saw black smoke coming out of the house.
Unfortunately, the 25 years old died in the three year old house. It took several days of investigation to find out the cause of the fire. It was determined that the fire was caused by the laptop resting on the bed. When the laptop was on the bed, the cooling fan did not get the air to cool the computer and that is what caused the fire. He did not even wake up to get out of the bed because he died of breathing in carbon monoxide”.
This a real tragic incident that took place last year when a fresh MBA graduate was taken down by carbon monoxide, a toxic gas when he left his laptop resting on the bed and fell asleep without noticing that it’s not cooling down properly. As the incident narrated above, the laptop started fire due to overheating following the halted cooling fan. Being a human, the incident shook me badly. Being a technology writer, it gave me an insight into how people actually use their laptops, desktops, or other peripherals to make their life comfortable, or rather uncomfortable. Eventually, it compelled me to write this article on laptop safety tips.
Despite being our lives, laptops have their own downsides that we often overlook unless we meet with an accident like the one described above. Devices like laptops have been playing an important role in our lives from the beginning till date. We rely so much them for every single task and reason viz. from online shopping, checking bank or credit card statements, sending and receiving emails, obtaining information (Googling or Binging etc.), paying bills, sending documents, sharing files or folders, developing apps (for developers), arranging online meetings, social networking, voice or video chatting, to instant messaging among other things.
Why do we rely completely on laptops? It is because they integrate well with our day-to-day life in which we don’t have much time to do anything else other than the regular professional or personal stuff. Their portability keeps us moving and connected on the go. It is certainly impossible to carry a desktop along when on the go, but a laptop certainly makes way with us in a restaurant, office, school, plane, train, bus, taxi, platform, and even in a foreign country. Benefits are limitless but as I said above, laptops have their own disadvantages if they are not tended to properly. Here I have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts when using a laptop. Check it out and make sure that you never hurt yourself using your laptop.
Do’s and Don’ts
Never place and leave your laptop on bed, table or other such thing that prevents the cooling fan from properly working. You must place your laptop on a laptop stand to make sure that the cooling fan properly works and it keeps venting hot air to cool it down. There are many types of laptop stands available in the market to suit your budget or space requirements. So, buy one and place your laptop on it to avoid meeting with unnatural accidents.
If you cannot use a laptop stand, make sure that whatever article you place the laptop on has some distance between it and the article, leaving enough space for the heat to vent. Never leave your laptop plugged in the electricity outlet for more than the required time. A sudden power surge can blow up your laptop or at least its battery, causing fire. Never leave your laptop unattended, especially when it is plugged for charging in the electricity outlet.
Never place your laptop in proximity of electric equipments (like a lamp) that emit heat. Also, never eat or drink beside your laptop to prevent it from physical damage like discoloration. Keep your laptop always away from the reach of your children. If you don’t want to keep your children away from your laptop, teach them about the basic safety measures and how to use it properly.
Shut down your laptop properly. When done, make sure that no smoke is spewing out of it after it has shut down. Visually inspect that no cable of a connecting device like printer, router etc. is broken, exposing your laptop to a risk of burn or damage. Make sure that you do not store anything in between the laptop keys.
If you are disassembling your laptop for repair purpose, make sure that you do it in proper way. Sometimes, heating components like RAM modules or battery can give you mild shock. Make sure that you refer to your laptop manual for assistance or contact your laptop manufacturer for that matter. 

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