From Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams:
Fire Safety Research Institute, FDNY, CPSC, USFA and ATF team up to share safety risks and tips for safer use of lithium-ion battery powered devices
In response to an alarming rise in the number of lithium battery fires across the world, UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI)) has launched a new safety campaign to provide tips for safer use of lithium-ion battery powered devices.
The “Take C.H.A.R.G.E. of Battery Safety” campaign also features a new PSA and is in collaboration with The Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and with the support of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Lithium-ion batteries are powering our lives in more ways than ever before and can be found in cell phones, laptops, power tools and e-mobility devices like wheelchairs, lawnmowers and electric bikes, scooters, and vehicles. Although they offer many advantages, a significant safety concern is the potential for these batteries to catch fire and cause explosions.
Research from FSRI demonstrates that fires in modern homes with synthetic furnishings can have an escape time thats less than three minutes from the time the fire starts. A fire from a larger device with an unregulated lithium-ion battery, like an e-bike or e-scooter, can reduce that escape time to less than one minute. According to research provided by UL Solutions, in 2023 there have been at least 445 incidents, 214 injuries and 38 fatalities related to lithium-ion battery fires throughout North America.
To help people enjoy their many lithium-ion battery powered devices safely, FSRI’s new safety campaign offers consumers easy steps to Take C.H.A.R.G.E.:
- Choose Certified Products: Only 25% of respondents to a recent survey said they check to see if the products they purchase meet lithium-ion battery standards. When purchasing lithium-ion battery-powered devices, look for products that are listed or safety certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory to ensure they meet important safety requirements.
- Handle Lithium-Ion Battery Powered Devices with Care: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and only use the charging equipment that comes with the product. Do not modify batteries or chargers. Store and charge batteries away from extreme temperatures, direct sunlight, exits, and anything flammable. Charge larger devices (such as e-bikes) away from your exit path, behind a closed door, away from your sleeping area and/or outside your home, if possible. Do not charge larger devices overnight.
- Always Stay Alert for Warning Signs: Check battery-powered devices often for damage or abuse such as swelling or punctures. Listen for unusual hissing or popping sounds. Watch out for excessive heat or a strange odor. If you notice any of these warning signs, stop using the lithium-ion battery powered device immediately. White or gray wispy smoke indicates there is immediate danger of fire.
- Recycle Devices and Batteries Properly: Responsibly dispose of old or damaged batteries and devices by taking them to the nearest battery recycling center. Never discard batteries, chargers, or battery-powered devices in regular trash bins.
- Get Out Quickly If There’s a Fire: Know the warning signs to look and listen for and get out if you see – or hear – them. Follow your home fire escape plan to leave immediately, closing doors behind you as your exit, and call 9-1-1.
- Educate Others on Safe Practices: Help protect your friends and loved ones by sharing how they can Take C.H.A.R.G.E. of Battery Safety.
“Lithium-ion batteries have quickly become one of the leading causes of fatal fires in New York City. We cannot stress enough the importance of safe usage of these devices; it will save lives. We are grateful to partner with FSRI, USFA, CPSC and ATF to raise public awareness, and address a problem we know is not going away,” said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.
To learn more about lithium-ion battery safety and FSRI’s work to advance fire safety knowledge, and watch the new PSA, visit BatteryFireSafety.org.