By Chad Engle, Loss Prevention Manager and Safety Specialist

Lithium-ion batteries commonly provide power to items that most of us own and use on a regular basis. Smart phones, laptops, power tools, e-scooters, e-bikes, e-cigarettes, many toys and even cars. Unfortunately, there is a risk of lithium-ion batteries overheating, catching on fire and possibly exploding when they are damaged, improperly used, improperly charged, or improperly stored.

Lithium-ion batteries store a large amount of energy in a small amount of space, batteries are not always used correctly, and a small number of these batteries are defective. To reduce the likelihood of a lithium-ion battery fire or explosion please follow these safety tips provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

  • Purchase and use devices that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Only use the battery that is designed for the device.
  • Put batteries in the device right away.
  • Only use the charging cord that came with the device.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed, or on a couch.
  • Do not keep charging the device or device battery after it is fully charged.
  • Keep batteries at room temperature when possible. Do not charge them at temperatures below 32° or above 105°.
  • Store batteries away from anything that can catch fire.

Look out for the following signs that a lithium-ion battery may be overheating:  odor, change in color, too much heat, change in shape, leaking, or odd noises. If it is safe to do so, move the device away from anything flammable and call 911.

When disposing of used lithium-ion batteries, do not place them in the trash. Recycling is always the best option. A quick google search shows multiple recycling options in the Lincoln area, most of which appear to be free. The NFPA also recommends that you do not put discarded batteries into piles. A study completed by the California Products Stewardship Council (CPSC), based on 347 reported fires in the US and Canada over a year period, found that lithium-ion batteries were the source of 40% of fires at waste management facilities.

For additional information on lithium-ion battery safety you can follow this link to the NFPA’s website.

For information specifically relating to lithium-ion battery safety and power tools, please visit the Power Tool Institute, Inc.

Structure fires are costly and extremely dangerous, so please do your part to educate employees on the risks associated with lithium-ion batteries at home and in the workplace.  As always, I can be reached at 1.800.642.6671 or chad@nirma.info.