The Division of the Fire Marshal, Office of Research
Services offers these fire safety tips for using personal computers with the
hope that they might prevent the loss of life or property both in the workplace
and at home.
- Make sure that a multipurpose fire extinguisher (e.g.,
one rated for ordinary combustibles and electrical fires) is located within a
reasonable distance from your personal computer.
- When you leave your personal computer on and
unattended, turn off the monitor during your absence. Monitors generate high
voltage internally with the potential to start an electrical fire, or even
trigger an explosion if the computer is located in a flammable atmosphere (such
as one might encounter from a gas leak or from flammable vapors resulting from
a chemical spill in a laboratory). The switch for the monitor is typically
found at the bottom of the screen, on the side of the monitor, or in some cases
at the rear of the unit. Turning off the monitor while leaving the computer on
will NOT disrupt the computer’s operation or compromise data integrity. When
you return, simply turn the monitor back on and wait a few seconds for it to
- Never leave on a personal computer, monitor, or printer
with protective dust covers in place. Doing so may cause excessive heat
build-up, which can cause hardware failure and potentially result in electrical
- Never place liquids on computer components or other
electronic equipment where damage from spills could occur.
- Make sure that your computer’s electrical outlet is
properly grounded and has a sufficient power rating to handle all the
components connected to it.
- Keep backup copies of important data in a remote
location (i.e., in another building or in a safe deposit box). This will allow
you to restore your data subsequent to a fire or other catastrophic event,
rather than experiencing the expense of recovery, or worse, the irreversible
loss of data.
If you have questions concerning fire safety tips for
personal computers in the workplace, or in the home, please contact the
Division of the Fire Marshal, Office of Research Services at 301-496-0487.