Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tragedy leads to reminder about smoke detectors and laptops

A tragedy occurred in our small town at the end of April.  A house fire claimed the lives of two Southern Illinois University Edwardsville students. 

The young women, ages 21 and 19, were lifelong friends who had attended high school together in a town located less than 15 miles away.  They had recently moved in to a newly remodeled older home that had been turned into apartments.

Around 3:45 a.m. the morning of the fire, a neighbor noticed a fire in the home's upstairs window and called 911.  Firefighters arrived quickly, found the girls and had them transported to the closest hospital.  They were air lifted to a St. Louis hospital later that morning, but the two died the following day.

The initial fire investigation indicated that a laptop computer had been left on the bed and plugged into a power strip that also had other electronics plugged into it.  Although no final report has been released, this area was suggested by fire officials to have been the initial origin of the fire.

Initial reports have also indicated that smoke detectors were in the recently remodeled home, but they have not yet released why the smoke detectors did not work.

I shared this news story on my Facebook page the day after the fire and reminded my friends of the importance to check smoke detectors regularly and replace their batteries every few months as well as reminded them of the danger of leaving a laptop on a bed, blanket or any other soft surface.

A few days later I was visiting a friend of mine who is in a nursing home when her 22 year old daughter, who was also there visiting, mentioned that she had read my Facebook post about the fire.  She told me that she had never heard that a laptop shouldn't be left on a bed or soft surface and she noted that she and her dad would work on their laptops in bed all the time.  She was grateful that I had posted the information.

Since there's even one person out there in the world who didn't know not to leave a laptop on a bed, pillow, blanket, etc... I felt it might be worth repeating here.

While some sites online suggest that a laptop won't generate enough heat to start a fire on a bed and that only a faulty battery could do that, I think until there's conclusive research that says a laptop on a bed CAN'T start a fire, then we're best to take caution and not push fate.

I can tell you that I had one desktop mother board that literally fried itself baking to over 300 degrees in an upstairs room one summer.It's hard to fathom that this tiny board filled with small connectors could heat to those levels, but it does!

And if you don't want to remove the laptop from your bed because you think that it is not possible to start a fire, then remove it for the simple fact that when you place a laptop on a soft surface, the cooling fan (that keeps your processor nice an chilled) can't get air through the vents that are now covered. So when you have your laptop on a bed or soft surface you're in fact boiling your processor which if you didn't know....will burn eventually up your processor.  And new processor = Big Bucks!


  1. Thank you for this - I am going to tweet and post on Facebook.

  2. Thanks bookworm! I really feel its an important message...especially for college kids.