The United States Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a massive recall of HP and Compaq computer batteries this week that includes more than 100,000 laptops. Batteries inside the laptop are prone to overheating and causing serious fire hazards.

The US CPSC says this follows an earlier recall that included 41,000 batteries. It also follows another in 2013 that affected Google Chromebooks. The recall specifically relates to about 101,000 laptops sold with Panasonic battery cells in laptops under the HP, Compaq, HP ProBook, HP ENVY, Compaq Presario (they still make those things?) and HP Pavilion brand names. The laptops were sold between March 2013 and October 2016, which means there's a huge period of time during which consumers may have purchased one of the affected machines.

How to identify a faulty HP laptop included in the recall

It's a cinch to find out if your laptop battery is included in the recall. If it doesn't pop right off the back of your laptop, you should be able to remove the panel underneath your laptop relatively easily, usually with a Philips screwdriver. Then just look for the battery; the affected units measure "8 to 10.5 inches long, 2 inches wide and about 1 inch high," the CPSC said. There will be print on each cell that says "HP Notebook Battery" along with a model number. If the number reads 6EBVA, 6DGAL, 6DEMH, 6DEMA, 6CZMB, 6CGFK or 6BZLU, then your unit is potentially very dangerous.

In fact, the CPSC said the laptop batteries can cause fires, resulting in melting and charring computers. One incident caused about $1,000 worth of damage, presumably not including the actual laptop that went up in flames.

Here's the CPSC remedy: "Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled batteries, remove them from the notebook computers and contact HP for a free replacement battery.  Until a replacement battery is received, consumers should use the notebook computer by plugging it into AC power only. Batteries previously identified as not affected by the June 2016 recall could be included in this expanded announcement.  Consumers are urged to recheck their batteries."