Monday, October 6, 2008

Warning! Are IPod Fires Real and Could One Happen to You?

In October of 2007, iPod fires made international headlines. Danny Williams, a worker at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, looked down to see his pants on fire. The iPod in his pocket had inexplicably burst into flames. The fire reached his chest before he was able to put it out, and luckily, he escaped without serious injury.
But he had a whole lot of questions, as did others who heard about the incident. Soon it became obvious that this was happening to other people, too. Some went to the internet to post pictures of their burned iPods. Some of the iPods burst into flames while they were simply sitting idle, but others went the way of fireworks while they were charging.
The problem was found quickly: It's all about the battery.
In the year before the iPod fire became common knowledge, Apple - along with several other companies - recalled the batteries of millions of laptops. The recall was in response to several incidents of laptops overheating or catching on fire. The source was found to be the lithium-ion batteries used in those laptops. Those same batteries, albeit on a smaller scale, are used in the popular iPods.
How could a tiny battery cause a life-threatening fire? The answer lies in how the lithium-ion batteries age. They are rechargeable and good for countless hours of battery life. However, as the batteries age, the lithium inside them breaks down, and this allows impurities to form. These impurities can take the form of microscopic metal particles. If these particles come into contact with other parts of the battery cell, the battery usually shorts out, and simply stops working.
From time to time, however, the battery doesn't stop working. Instead, it goes haywire, and overheats - thus leading to the possibility of fire.
It's important to remember that the iPod fires reported have been isolated incidents, and all have resulted from older iPod models, ones in which the batteries had definitely been used enough to wear down the lithium inside them. It's also important to note that the iPod fires that have occurred caused little to no damage, and certainly resulted in no injuries!
The odds of iPod fires happening to you are virtually non-existent. However, the best way to keep the odds in your favor is to make sure you are around when the iPod is charging. This is the best bet whenever you are dealing with any electrical device, whether it is an iPod or not! When the battery on your iPod begins to wear down significantly - to a point where it no longer holds a charge for a long period of time - send the iPod back to Apple to have the battery replaced with a fresh, safer one.
The joys of your iPod far outweigh the minuscule chance of danger from using it. So it's safe to continue to rock on with your favorite iPod!
To learn more about iPods and iPod accessories, visit
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