The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management Ontario (OFMEM) has recently received several inquiries from fire departments relating to a video that is circulating over the internet.
The video involves a homeowner explaining how the improper storage of 9V batteries resulted in his home catching on fire. The video raises concern that fires can be ignited by a 9V battery if both terminals come into contact with an electrical conductor, in the presence of nearby combustibles.
The OFMEM has previously been made aware of the potential for this scenario based on past media reports on the storage of 9V batteries in “junk drawers”. We believe this to be a legitimate concern as it is possible for a battery to short out and become an ignition source if both terminals come in contact with an electrical conductor (i.e. battery, paper clip, steel wool, etc.).
There is more of a concern with 9V batteries over other household battery types (i.e. AA or AAA types) because both terminals are at the same end and can be more easily bridged with conducting material.
Despite this, Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Directorate indicates that there have been no fire incidents reported in Canada involving 9V batteries directly. The OFMEM is also not aware of any such related incidents in Ontario.
Nevertheless, the OFMEM recommends covering the terminals of all batteries with electrical tape when storing or recycling them to prevent the potential occurrence of fire.
Here is additional information provided by battery manufacturers:
Storage and disposal:
- Store batteries in a dry place at room temperature, preferably inside their original packaging.
- Seal the contact point ends of batteries with a piece of electric tape before disposal.
- Do not dispose of batteries with household waste or throw batteries into a fire (they could explode).