If, as a Mac user, you considered yourself unaffected by the August 14 recall of 4.1 million Dell-branded, Sony-manufactured laptop batteries, think again.

Apple on Thursday announced a voluntary recall of approximately 1.8 million lithium-ion notebook battery packs (1.1 million in the United States and 700,000 abroad) because the batteries can overheat and catch fire.

The affected batteries have been on the market since October 2003, and until now have shipped with the 12-inch iBook G4, the 12-inch PowerBook G4 and the 15-inch PowerBook G4. They were also sold separately.

If you own one of the affected notebooks and think you might be affected by the recall, go ahead and breathe — we've got the information you need to figure what to do next.

• Click here to see whether your Apple laptop is among those affected by the recall.

For starters, keep in mind that Apple has so far received only nine reports of batteries overheating.

As with the Dell recall, that's a very small number when you consider how many are out there — so don't go putting the fire department on speed-dial just yet.

Now locate your battery's model and serial numbers. The battery is located at the bottom of the notebook. You can take out the battery and look at the back of the battery. You should see the model number, and the serial number should be under the bar code.

For the 12-inch iBook G4, the affected batteries are model number A1061, with serial numbers ZZ338 through ZZ427, 3K429 through 3K611, and 6C510 through 6C626.

For the 12-inch PowerBook G4, the model number is A1079, with serial numbers ZZ411 through ZZ427 and 3K428 through 3K611.

For the 15-inch PowerBook G4, two different model numbers are affected: A1078 and the A1148, with serial numbers 3K425 through 3K601, 6N530 through 6N551, and 6N601.

If your battery is included in the recall, stop using it. Visit http://support.apple.com/ibook_powerbook/batteryexchange/index.html for instructions on where to send it and how to request a replacement, free of charge.

If you can't access the site, keep trying. Remember that you're one of over 1.5 million users affected by the recall, and site traffic will be understandably heavy — at press time, the site still wasn't consistently functional.

You can also try calling Apple's recall hotline at (800) 275-2273 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

In the meantime, feel free to continue using the machine with its AC power adapter.

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