Fire risks of batteries and chargers

Fire risks of batteries and chargers

Lithium-ion batteries or li-ion batteries (sometimes called LIBs) are the lightweight, rechargeable batteries that power our phones, laptops and cameras. They are found in many electrical devices from mobility scooters to e-cigarettes and are used safely by millions of people every day. However, there are some things you need to know when it comes to fire safety, chargers, batteries and disposal.

While these batteries are not dangerous when used properly, they can present a risk when over-charged, short-circuited, submerged in water or if they are damaged.

 

Follow our hints and tips :

 

  • Always use the charger that came with your phone, tablet, e-cigarette or mobile device.
  • If you need to buy a replacement, always choose a branded, genuine product from a supplier you can trust. There are lots of fakes out there, and it can be difficult to spot the difference.
  • Avoid storing, using, or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures.
  • Protect batteries against being damaged – that's crushed, punctured or immersed in water, if you notice your battery is damaged, replace it.
  • Don’t leave items continuously on charge after the charge cycle is complete – it's best not to leave your phone plugged in overnight for example.
  • Charge batteries whilst you are awake and alert so if a fire should occur you can respond quickly. Don’t leave batteries to charge while you are asleep or away from the home.
  • Never cover chargers or charging devices – that includes using your laptop power lead in bed.      
  • Counterfeit electrical chargers can be deadly – many fail to meet UK safety regulations leading to fires and injury. What may seem like a bargain isn't worth the risk.
  • Do not overload socket outlets or use inappropriate extension leads (use un-coiled extensions and ensure the lead is suitably rated for what you are plugging in to it).
  • Ensure you have working smoke alarm and test them regularly. 
  • Check any products you have bought are not subject to a product recall. You can do this but checking Electrical Safety First’s website or the government website.
  • If you need to dispose of a damaged or end of life battery, don’t dispose of it in your household waste or normal recycling. These batteries, when punctured or crushed can cause fires in bin lorries, recycling and waste centres.

 

Electric bikes and scooters:

  • Always buy electric bikes/scooters from reputable retailers and ensure they meet British and European Standards.
  • Never tamper with the electrics.
  • If buying an electric bike conversion kit, purchase from a reputable seller and check that it complies with British and European Standards. Take particular care if buying from online auction or fulfilment platforms. Also be aware that if buying separate components, you should check that they are compatible.
  • Charge batteries whilst you are awake and alert so if a fire should occur you can respond quickly. Don’t leave batteries to charge while you are asleep or away from the home.
  • Register your product with the manufacturer to validate any warranties – batteries are usually included in warranties. Registering makes it easier for manufacturers to contact you in the event of safety or recall information.
  • Do not charge electric bikes/scooters on your escape routes, e.g. in corridors or blocking doorways, if there’s a fire, it can affect people’s ability to escape.
  • Do not charge batteries or store your electric bike/scooter near combustible or flammable materials.
  • Don’t leave electric bikes/scooters continuously on charge after the cycle is complete.
  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms and test them regularly. If you charge or store your electric bike/scooter in a garage or kitchen ensure you install detection, we recommend heat alarms rather smoke detectors for these areas.
  • In the event of an electric bike, electric scooter or lithium-ion battery fire – do not attempt to extinguish the fire. Get out, stay out, call 999.
  • Batteries can be damaged by dropping them or crashing electric bikes/scooters. Where the battery is damaged, it can overheat and catch fire without warning. Check your battery regularly for any signs of damage and if you suspect it is damaged it should be replaced and should not be used or charged.
  • If you need to dispose of a damaged or end of life battery, don’t dispose of it in your household waste or normal recycling. These batteries, when punctured or crushed can cause fires in bin lorries, recycling and waste centres. Your electric bike/scooter manufacturer may offer a recycling service. Alternatively check with your local authority for suitable battery recycling arrangements in your area.