At times, the most innocent of actions can have dire consequences. For instance, pouring kitchen grease down your drain can cause your pipes to clog and lead to water damage. And you know that 9-volt battery you tossed into your junk drawer to one day use in your smoke detector? Well, it can become the cause of smoke – and fire!
While AAA, AA, D, and C batteries have their positive and negative posts positioned at opposite ends, 9-volt battery posts are set next to each other. When both posts touch metal that may be in your junk drawer (such as paper clips, steel wool, aluminum foil, nails, scissors, etc.), it can cause that metal to heat up. If that metal is touching a combustible source like paper or steel wool, it can start a fire. (Watch video)
Although these fires don’t happen every day, fires caused by loose 9-volt batteries have been reported countrywide, from New Hampshire to Kansas and Colorado. This problem has caused some homeowners to launch public awareness campaigns about it. (While we’re at it, this is a good time to remind you to always have fully-charged fire extinguishers in your home and business.)
How to Protect Yourself From This Danger
To help allay your fears, a study conducted by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) concluded that fires started by batteries did not make the “Most Common Causes of House Fires” list. But ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons thinks that even one fire is too many. So, practicing fire prevention is important to ensure this situation doesn’t happen to you.
To keep your property safe, the NFPA has set these guidelines for safely storing 9-volt batteries:
- Don’t store them loosely in a drawer or container with metal objects or other batteries.
- Keep them in their original package until ready for use.
- If the original package is gone, cover both positive and negative posts with electrical or another non-conductive tape.
- Don’t put batteries in your pocket along with keys, loose change, or other metal objects.
- Keep 9-volt batteries stored standing up in a safe place where they won’t be knocked around.
How to Safely Dispose of Household Batteries
Single-use, non-chargeable batteries made before 1996 contained mercury and were considered hazardous waste. But now they’re constructed with common metals that the federal government deems non-hazardous and can be thrown away with your regular garbage – except in California, where it’s illegal to throw in your trash any type of battery. (Tip: Reduce your need for disposing of single-use batteries by purchasing rechargeable batteries instead. These can be used more than 1,000 times and recycled.)
But the exceptions are lithium-ion batteries, button cell batteries (found in items like watches and hearing aids), and any rechargeable batteries. All contain hazardous metals. These types of batteries need to be recycled.
It is important not to place lithium-ion batteries in curbside recycling carts as recycling facilities and truck fires have been reported due to batteries being damaged during sorting or when heavy equipment crushed them. To help prevent battery fires and improve workers’ safety, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed a law that prohibits residents and businesses from placing rechargeable or lead-acid batteries into recycling carts beginning January 1, 2020.
Here’s how you can recycle lithium-ion, button, and rechargeable batteries:
- Call your Cook County municipal household hazardous waste program on how to recycle these batteries correctly.
- Search the Chicagoland area for recycling centers that accept single-use batteries using Earth911’s Recycling Search.
- Find a mail-in recycling program that accepts batteries. Most of these programs will sell you a container to store used batteries that can be mailed when filled.
If your Chicagoland property has been affected by smoke or fire from any source, ServiceMaster By Simons can assist you by handling your property and contents restoration. We work with our customers as a team to guarantee your property will be returned to its pre-loss condition as quickly and efficiently as possible.
About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or firstname.lastname@example.org