Computer Fires: How Vulnerable is Your PC?

Fire and explosions are one of the leading causes of accidental death. Each year 4,000 people a year are killed in the US alone and a further 25,000 are left injured and often maimed or scarred for life.

Whilst fires and explosions have a multitude of causes, three things are always required: fuel, oxygen and a source of ignition. Fires start when a fuel (from paper in a litter bin to petrol in a fuel tank) is ignited by a spark and the following explosion/inferno is kept alive by the oxygen in the atmosphere.

Of course there is little we can do about the oxygen in the atmosphere but we can reduce the amount of combustibles lying around, making sure areas are swept clean of paper or litter, but what about sources of ignition?

Many fires are caused by faulty electrical equipment a spark or short from a circuit board can arc setting alight any combustible material it comes into contact with. We can of course make sure all electrical equipment is off before we leave the work place, but how practical is this? What about that old IBM workhorse that is left on overnight or the servers left humming in the back room?

A computer monitor left on overnight at a newspaper office in Virginia, as it had been for many years, was, although not in a particular hazardous area, responsible for completely gutting the offices of the Carolina Coast and Virginian-Pilot newspapers as the amount of newspaper lying around provided enough fuel to destroy over a decades worth of records.

Computers that work in particular hazardous environments, where there is a risk of explosion or fire, such as chemical factory, have to be sealed, ensuring any fault in the electrical equipment does not spark. However these systems are expensive, particularly when the IT has to be upgraded and the whole unit has to be discarded.

This is of course an impractical solution for those who work in environments not deemed a potential risk and many companies opt to save their money. However, these same companies spend thousands on anti-virus, spyware and firewall systems to keep their data safe from malicious hackers. However, if your entire computer (an perhaps office or factory) goes up in smoke, how safe is your data then?

There is a solution, for computers and other electrical equipment (including monitors, printers), in the shape of specialist enclosures. These can be made from a variety of materials from food-grade stainless steel Enclosures to cheaper plastic varieties. These enclosures can also protect equipment from knocks and bangs and some are even bomb-proof!

If you have a machine left on overnight or perhaps out in the warehouse amongst the dust and dirt - perhaps an enclosure could save you the time and trouble of not only replacing your data and computer but perhaps the entire building!

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