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Lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous

Hannah Hanford

Village News Intern

North County Fire Protection District PIO John Choi, gave a presentation to community members on Saturday, April 1 about lithium-ion battery fires.

In his presentation, Choi discussed how lithium-ion batteries are widely used in electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles due to them being lightweight, having a high energy density and long lifespan.

However, improper storage, use or faulty manufacturing can lead to dangerous situations, including explosions and fires.

One of the main dangers of lithium-ion batteries is the risk of thermal runaway, which occurs when the battery overheats and causes a chain reaction that leads to an uncontrollable increase in temperature and pressure. This can result in an explosion or fire, releasing toxic gasses and spreading flames to nearby objects.

To prevent such incidents, it is important to follow some best practices. Here are some of the best practices that were presented in that meeting:

1. Use only approved chargers and cables like Ul tested or Intertek. It is not recommended to buy them off Amazon or Ebay because they are not certified and could potentially cause danger.

2. Avoid exposing batteries to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.

3. Store batteries in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and flammable materials.

4. Do not puncture, crush, or damage batteries in any way.

5. Dispose of old or damaged batteries properly, following local regulations.

6. Don't mix and match batteries with different charging units. The factory battery and charging units are designed to work together. Safety features may be built inside the battery or the charger, hence the need to pair the correct equipment. Charging parameters are also going to be very specific for each item.

7. Don't mishandle batteries. Avoid dropping, crushing, indenting, or puncturing the batteries.

8. Keep the batteries in a dry and temperature-controlled area (not too hot or too cold).

9. Lithium-ion batteries should not be disposed of in regular garbage. Fallbrook Waste and Recycling is open Wednesday through Saturday from 8-4 p.m.

10. Avoid charging your device on flammable surfaces like under a pillow, on your bed or on the couch.

11. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for charging and storage.

There have been several high-profile cases of lithium-ion battery explosions over the years, including:

1. Samsung Galaxy Note 7: In 2016, Samsung recalled over 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to a faulty battery that caused some devices to overheat and catch fire. The incident cost the company billions of dollars in losses and damage to its reputation.

2. Lithium Iron Battery of a power drill: In September 2022, a lithium battery caught on fire and burnt a house down that left a family without a home in Ryde, Australia.

3. RATP Electric Bus: On Friday 29 April 2022, a bus caught on fire in a matter of seconds in Paris, a small explosion started on the roof of the bus where the batteries were located which then caused the whole bus to catch on fire.

These incidents highlight the importance of proper handling and safety precautions when using lithium-ion batteries. By following best practices and being vigilant about potential risks, we can minimize the dangers and continue to enjoy the benefits of this technology.

North County Fire Protection District is planning on holding another class in June. Watch Village News for more information.


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