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About a month ago, I came across an interesting article that really shocked me and made me re-think any junk that I might keep lying around in my house. Specifically, the junk that's lying around in my "junk drawer" at home. I think everyone has a junk drawer at home; that catchall place where the crap that you don't want to throw away but don't really know what to do with goes to die. However, the fact is that the stuff lying around in your junk drawer could cause bigger problems than merely adding to clutter.

According to firemen in New Hampshire, a house burnt down this year from a 9 volt battery that was left in a junk drawer. The battery was stored inside of a plastic bag with other batteries inside of a junk drawer and once it ignited from rubbing against the other batteries, it spread to the nearby Post-It Notes, papers, and other flammable items in the drawer. Unfortunately, it didn't stop at the drawer and the fire caused the first floor of the house to fill with smoke. Although it doesn't appear that this was a big fire, it could've been a lot worse if the homeowners weren't in town that weekend.

Fire marshalls say that the problem with 9 volt batteries in particular is their square shape with a negative and positive charge on the same end of the battery. You can easily create a spark from a 9 volt battery by touching a paperclip to the end for several minutes. Since the fire, experts have issued warnings across the nation about the dangers of a cluttered junk drawer. Other common household items that can cause fires include:

  • Electrical outlets, when overloaded with extension cords
  • Lithium batteries, when stored in the same place as clothing
  • Clothes dryers, when too much lint gets caught in the vent or filter
  • Space heaters, when placed too close to curtains, sheets, or other flammable materials
  • Overheated laptop computers, when left on soft surfaces (like a bed or a tablecloth)
  • Extra gasoline cans, when stored near dirty rags in the garage
  • Fireplaces, when there is too much soot build-up

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