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3 On Your Side: 9 Volt Battery Fire Risk

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Practically every home has one, a junk drawer, a place where you throw everything from paperclips to spare change to keep clutter out of sight.

But one item in that drawer could pose a risk that you may not be aware of. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan explains.

People have all sorts of stuff in a junk drawer, but one of those things has the potential to cause a fire, a 9 volt battery.

"There's a lot of things in a normal junk drawer that do burn and apparently the ignition source was a 9 volt battery," says fire chief Kevin Mac Caffrie.

If the positive and negative posts on top of the battery come in contact with anything metal like keys, the clip of a pen, even a paper clip, it can spark.

In one test a paper clip resting on a 9 volt battery heated up and, in about 10 minutes, had turned a Kleenex next to it brown. The same spark process worked when steel wool was placed next to the battery.

House fires have been linked to 9 volt batteries coming in contact with other items, but most don't realize this.

Homeowner Pat Kelley was surprised to learn that her junk drawer was full of things that could cause a fire. "We didn't know that. My husband nor I would even think of that," she says.

So the moral of the story is keep your 9 volt batteries away from anything that could cause them to heat up or spark. Or another option, take a piece of electrical tape and put it across the battery posts.

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