Exploding Lithium Battery Fires & Injuries
“In Westchester and across the nation, firefighters are seeing an increase in the number of fires caused by lithium ion batteries.”
- Emergency Services Commissioner Richard G. Wishnie
Lithium-Ion Battery Fire Injuries
Recently, there have been several instances of lithium-ion battery fires in the New York Metro area making the headlines, such as:
- 8-year old killed in fire sparked by a lithium-ion battery from an electronic transportation device in Queens
- Midtown high-rise fire injured over three dozen people
- Cornwall family homeless after blaze caused by a malfunctioning lithium battery power tool
Firefighters Warn of Dangers of Lithium-Ion Batteries when Stored Improperly
Lithium batteries are in many common devices like cell phones and laptops, and more recently in e-bikes, e-scooters and hoverboards. The safest temperature to store items with lithium batteries is between 40 and 70 degrees. If even just one cell in the battery overheats, it can quickly produce enough heat to cause adjacent cells to overheat, causing a chain-reaction to the battery chemistry called thermal runaway. Once thermal runaway starts, it becomes very dangerous and difficult to stop.
Why Do Lithium-Ion Batteries Explode or Catch Fire
Low-quality components, design flaws, and manufacturing defects are one of the main causes of battery failure that can lead to an explosion. Always try to use equipment that has the Underwriters Laboratories Mark. The UL mark shows that the product has been safety-tested.
Other common causes of Lithium-Ion Battery Failure are:
- Damages caused by dropping, crushing, or puncturing
- High temperatures and being exposed to heaters, open flames
- Storing below-freezing temperatures
- Not following the manufacturer’s instructions when charging the device or using a mismatched or ultra-fast charger that does not cycle power or automatically turn off
Best Practices When it Comes to Using Devices with Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-Ion batteries are used in a wide range of products due to their efficiency and high energy density. It is important to understand the proper ways to safely use and handle these products.
- Use care in replacing batteries for an electronic device
- Purchase replacement batteries directly from the manufacturer or authorized reseller.
- Remove devices from the charger once fully charged
- Store the batteries in a cool dry place
- Do not charge devices under a pillow, bed or couch, or in an area exposed to direct sunlight
- Avoid damaging them
- Do not leave unattended while charging
- Store them away from anything flammable
- Only use the battery and charging cord that came with the device
- Stop using if you detect a foul or strange odor, hear unusual noises, or notice a change in shape, or leaking.
- Regularly Inspect the products using lithium-ion batteries for damage
- Check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to extinguish small battery fires to see if they recommend smothering with dirt or sand, or a specific type of extinguisher.
What to Do if There is Damage to the Battery or Device?
If your lithium-ion battery product or device is damaged, remove and place it in a fire-resistant container and dispose of it in accordance with your town’s regulations. If you detect a strange odor, hear noises, or notice a change in shape or leaking, gently move it away from anything flammable and call 911.
Of Special Interest to Westchester County Residents
Westchester residents can make an appointment to dispose of lithium-ion batteries at the County’s Hazardous Materials Recovery Facility in Valhalla. To do so, go to environment.westchestergov.com or contact the County’s recycling helpline at 914-813-5425.
Contact the White Plains Lithium Battery Accident Lawyers
Contact us if you or your loved one has been injured due to a lithium-ion battery fire or explosion. Our caring team of accident and product liability attorneys are well-positioned to handle even the most difficult cases and can help protect your rights if a personal injury has been caused by a defective product. We have secured substantial verdicts and settlements for our injured Westchester Country clients for over 50 years. We offer free consultations and we collect no fees unless we settle your product liability case successfully.