A recent house fire in Gorham has firefighters cautioning Mainers about how they charge their electronics.

How Did a Laptop Start a House Fire?

We all do it without thinking. You're having your morning coffee in bed while surfing the internet. And when you get out of bed, what do you do? You plug in the computer and head off to the next portion of your day. But if you leave that laptop on the bed, plugged in, it could spell trouble, as it did for a family in Gorham over the weekend. The laptop overheated and started a fire that ended up devastating the family's home. Gorham Fire officials say electronics should never be left on any soft surface like beds and sofas while they're charging because they can overheat and start a fire.

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They say we should all familiarize ourselves with tips from the National Fire Protection Association about how to keep our electronics, and our homes, safe from fire. While most of them are common sense, I'm guessing most of us have done at least one or two of the things they advise against.

What Do Fire Experts Advise We Do to Stay Safe?

These are some of the tips from the NFPA about how to deal with any device that has a lithium battery.

  • Only use the charging cord that came with the device and avoid cords with conductive jackets.
  • Throw away any cords that get hot very fast or smell like they're burning.
  • Always make sure your cords are in good working order. Any frayed or damaged cords should be discarded.
  • Unplug your devices when they're not in use. This will not only save on your electric bill but will also help you avoid risking shock and fire.
  • Make sure your plug is fully inserted into the outlet and stays that way.

How Do I Know If My Device Has a Lithium Battery?

Any device that uses a lithium battery falls under this warning. That includes things like your laptop, your smartphone, and many electronic toys. Wireless headphones and handheld power tools also contain lithium batteries. When in doubt, look up the power information enclosed with your device, or find info about it online.

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