The fire dangers of mishandling lithium-ion batteries and how to avoid them
Electric bicycles (e-bikes) and scooters are more popular than ever with kids and adults alike. Whether for having fun around the neighborhood, running errands across town or even commuting to work, these are convenient, eco-friendly options to get around thanks to rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.
These powerful batteries can be recharged and used over and over again, however; they also pose an often-overlooked danger: They can catch on fire. With the increase in Li-ion devices, it's even more important to be aware of risks and take precautions to stay safe while preventing home fires that can lead to property damage, personal injury or worse.
In 2021, 880,000 e-bikes were imported into the U.S., and they can be conveniently stored in homes, apartments and public spaces, according to the Light Electric Vehicle Association. Li-ion powered devices are common in households and can include laptops, tablets and hoverboards.
To help prevent fires and ensure the integrity and safety of your Li-ion batteries, follow the acronym PREPARE, and these steps provided by Kidde, North America’s #1 home fire safety brand1:
P: Plug and unplug — don’t overcharge! Once a Li-ion battery is fully charged, unplug it as soon as possible and avoid overnight or unsupervised charging. *
R: Risky charging practices like using extension cords, plugging multiple products into one circuit, charging for 3+ hours, and charging in direct sunlight can lead to wire degradation and create a source of fire ignition. *
E: Exits are vital — don’t charge or store devices in an entrance or exit, as these spaces need to be clear in the event of a fire. *
P: Pay attention and immediately STOP using your device if the battery has an odor, change in color, or gives off too much heat. *
A: Always shop smart and look for officially listed e-mobility devices, batteries and charging equipment that qualify for UL 2849, the Standard for Electrical Systems for e-Bikes.
R: Reach for Kidde products in stores, such as the HomeSafe™ enabled Kidde Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Indoor Air Quality Monitor, a triple detection, industry-first alarm that can send instant notifications of home safety threats right to your mobile device.
E: Engage your friends and family. Share this infographic on social media and download it to hang in your home.
Most importantly, if there is a fire, get out of the space immediately and call 911.
If you take inventory of the devices in your home that are powered by Li-ion batteries, there are probably more than you think. Remember these safety steps and invest in fire safety products to help protect your home and your family.
1Based on total household installations as of December 2021