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Office of Research Services

Serving the NIH Community


Fire Safety Tips for Using Personal Computers

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 warm up.
  • 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 fires.
  • 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.