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Lithium-ion battery fire safety

lithium-ion battery fire

Since the start of 2023, the Seattle Fire Department has responded to 36 lithium-ion battery related fires. E-bikes and e-scooters made up over 40% of these fires.

Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are commonly used in home electronics such as phones, laptop computers, tablets, e-scooters and other devices that require plug in charging. These batteries are small and powerful but when used incorrectly, they can overheat, catch fire, or explode.

Lithium-ion battery fires are especially dangerous because of how quickly they can start and spread. They also produce harmful toxic gases.

How to be safe: 

  • Only use chargers and cables that are compatible with and came with the device – an incompatible charger can cause the device to overheat 
  • Do not charge a device while sleeping 
  • Do not charge a device under pillows or bedding or on top of beds and sofas 
  • Do not continue to charge the battery once it is fully charged  
  • Do not charge near your primary exit  – if a fire starts, you will need a clear way out
  • Keep batteries at room temperature and away from heat or direct sunlight 
  • Stop using your device if the battery shows signs of damage, such as an unusual odor or change in color.   
  • Purchase batteries and devices that have been certified by UL or another independent safety testing agency 

How to respond:

  • Lithium-ion battery fires can start and spread quickly. They produce toxic gases and it’s safest to get away. Do not try to extinguish on your own.
  • If your device begins to hiss and start a fire, immediately leave the area, close the door as you exit and call 911.

Dangers of Lithium-Ion Batteries (courtesy of NYC Fire Department)