Safety Tips for Notebook and Tablet PC Computer Use

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Safety Tips for Notebook and Tablet PC Computer Use

With the rash of recent publicity about notebook and Tablet PC batteries catching fire, the main U.S. consumer safety watchdog group, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), has seen fit to release a series of tips for safer portable computing. Statiscally speaking the odds of your Tablet PC or notebook catching fire are pretty low; the CPSC is aware of only 47 incidents involving smoke or fire associated with notebook computers from January 2001 through August 2006. But while you can’t do much about manufacturing defects or other safety hazards, you can follow some of these common sense tips to reduce the chances of damage to yourself or your equipment. These are the CPSC’s tips with a few of our own (in parentheses) added.

  • Do not use incompatible computer batteries and chargers. If unsure about whether a replacement battery or charger is compatible, contact the product manufacturer. (Also be careful with generic and third party replacements- if the price seems too good to be true, chances are you’ll get an inferior product.)

  • Computer batteries can get hot during normal use. Do not use your computer on your lap. (Or in the Sauna for that matter! Seriously though, using a laptop on our lap is one of the reasons most of us go portable. If you do a lot of laptop computing consider investing in a laptop desk or board that will keep both you and your Tablet PC or notebook cool.)

  • Do not use your computer on soft surfaces, such as a sofa, bed or carpet, because it can restrict airflow and cause overheating. (Again a laptop desk or hard flat surface will help.)

  • Do not permit a loose battery to come in contact with metal objects, such as coins, keys or jewelry. (Even if you’re good about keeping your equipment segregated, it’s easy to end up with batteries and other metal objects hanging together in the same pocket. Investing in a small seperate case for your extra battery and/or buying port covers for exposed ports will help.)

  • Do not crush, puncture or put a high degree of pressure on the battery as this can cause an internal short-circuit, resulting in overheating. (We don’t have much to add to this one.)

  • Avoid dropping or bumping the computer. Dropping it, especially on a hard surface, can potentially cause damage to the computer and battery. If you suspect damage contact the manufacturer. (Droppng or bumping our Tablet PC is something we all plan to never do but at one point or another end up doing all the same. If you have a serious drop or bump keep a close eye on your system for any unusual behavior or noises and like the tip says contact the manufacturer if you suspect something is broken.)

  • Do not place the computer in areas that may get very hot. (This is pretty obvious advice, but something you might overlook is making sure your Tablet PC or notebook won’t wake from hibernation when placed in a case. An awake Tablet or notebook can heat up pretty quickly in the confines of a case.)

  • Do not get your computer or battery wet. Even though they will dry and appear to operate normally, the circuitry could slowly corrode and pose a safety hazard. (Those of you with ruggedized Tablet PCs don’t have to worry so much about this one.)

  • Follow battery usage, storage and charging guidelines found in the user’s guide. (This would be a good tip if anyone ever actually read the user’s guide!)



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