Lithium batteries have been making the news for the past few decades due to reports of fires, explosions, and injuries caused by malfunctioning devices. What makes electrical fires much more likely to make the headlines is because they are much harder to control than a traditional fire and their effects may be more devastating. Even so, relatively few tech devices have actually been affected by these concerns, and most people continue to use lithium batteries safely and frequently.
All devices that contain lithium batteries have the potential to explode. Newer devices tend to heat up faster than older devices, however. The trend in lithium batteries has been heading toward cheaper, faster, smaller, thinner and lighter. However, the charge capacity of the batteries is trending upwards, leading to a greater explosive potential. Incidents in recent years have included lithium battery explosions from Tesla electric cars, hoverboards, e-bikes, e-cigarettes, notebook computers, and mobile phones. Injuries involving e-cigarettes have been reported by teens as young as 17.
Lithium Battery Headlines
When lithium battery fires brought down a UPS cargo flight, government and industry leaders began their campaign to regulate and educate the public about the risk of exploding lithium batteries. Unlike a traditional fire, electrical fires are more difficult to contain, and they can burn up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Electrical fires can cause a lot of damage due to burning metal parts being flung through the air.
What Should You Do in the Case of an Explosion?
Although the number of incidents caused by lithium fires is still relatively low, consumers own more devices using these batteries. An average person owns at least six rechargeable devices at a time. Consumers are advised to avoid keeping devices in hot temperature, to avoid using generic chargers and replacement batteries, and to avoid overcharging devices. If your phone or device does explode, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind. Never use water to extinguish a battery fire. Water, when in contact with lithium, can cause the release of hydrogen and will make the incident worse. The best way to put out lithium battery fires is to use a Class B fire extinguisher which suppresses flammable liquid, the electrolyte solvent inside all lithium batteries.
Lithium batteries are everywhere. Their ease of use in a variety of common devices means that every household is expected to contain more lithium batteries than ever before. It’s helpful to stay aware of the news to make sure your favorite devices are as safe as possible.