Fire Culprits – Preventing Lithium Battery Fires
There are many different culprits that can cause fires. We have seen all sorts of devastation caused by fire in our community from North Charleston to Summerville, South Carolina. This blog series focuses on the varying ways that fires start, and the things we can do to help prevent them. Today we will talk about fires that are caused by lithium batteries.
It’s not a common occurrence but rechargeable lithium batteries can be very volatile and dangerous, especially if steps are missed in the care and maintenance of these battery types. First off, where do we see these types of batteries being used? Well typically, you would find Lithium Polymer (LiPo) and Lithium Ion batteries in hobby products like Radio Controlled Vehicles and Drones, but we also find these battery types in other common electronics, like cellphones, laptops, and wireless speakers. These batteries store a large amount of energy in a small amount of space.
These batteries also have the propensity for overheating and sometimes explosion under certain conditions or improper recharging. You always want to make sure you are handling these batteries and electronics with great care when recharging and storing. The first thing you want to do is make sure you always follow all directions, instructions and warnings that come with the purchase of your electronic device that contains a Lithium battery.
When recharging larger batteries with higher energy capacity like we see with Radio Control and drone hobbies you want to purchase a Lithium Fire Safety Bag or Case. This is a special bag meant to store your batteries during charging and storage to assure that overheating and explosions are contained.
When charging phones and other electronic devices, never keep them under your pillow, on your bed or couch, most fires will begin that way when electronics begin to overheat with a bad battery or poor connection on the charging port. Always make sure your charging cables are in good shape, no frays or exposed wires, and when plugging them into the device make sure the connection is plugged in all the way.
If you fear that something is wrong with the battery never discard of it in the trash. Stop using it right away, contact the proper authorities for disposal instructions or for immediate response if you suspect a risk of fire. If possible, it is important to safely remove the battery from the vicinity of other flammable materials.
Our team here at SERVPRO of Greater Northern Charleston and Dorchester County has been there to help put back the pieces after fires have destroyed property and belongings for some of our neighbors here in the Lowcountry. But we also want to help prevent these disasters for our community as well. We hope some of these tips, provided by the NFPA, will help you protect your family and home.