It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid – Talkin’ Trash, April 2014

(apologies to A. Morissette)

Irony.  It’s defined as the “process of smoothing or pressing”…no, wait…hang on a second…that’s ironing.

Let’s try this again.

Irony.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result”.

Now, while I can definitely tell you that rain on your wedding day is not ironic (that’s just good luck…or is it bad luck?), I’m in no way qualified to comment on the irony-ness of learning that the humble 9-volt battery (you know, the square one of the bunch), the champion of fire safety, provider of power to smoke detectors around the world, has now been implicated as being a potential starter of fires.

Yes, it’s true – news has come to light that, under certain circumstances, improperly stored or recycled 9-volt batteries may start a fire.  It all started with a video some of you may have seen on this thing call the internet where a homeowner raises concern that fires can be started by a 9-volt battery if both terminals (the two sticky out parts) come into contact with an electrical conductor (like another battery or a piece of metal), while being stored close by to things that are flammable.

Actually, he does more than raise concern – his house burned down.batteries

Now, fortunately, the Ontario Fire Marshal is not aware of any such fires in the province.  However, we in Energy & Environment, and our good friends in UHN Fire & Life Safety feel that the following steps should be taken when storing and recycling batteries.

  • Store unused batteries in a dry place at room temperature, preferably inside their original packaging.
  • Seal the terminals on 9-volt batteries with a piece of tape before recycling.  The tape must be “non-conducting” such as electrical, masking or duct tape.
  • Sometimes 9-volt batteries, especially when sold in bulk packages, come with end-caps for the terminals (like in the second picture in this post).  When changing batteries, place the cap from the fresh battery onto the old one before recycling.
  • Do not dispose of any batteries in the garbage or throw batteries into a fire…they could explode…which is not good for the environment and stuff.

Good un-ironic advice that you should take.

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