Commissioner's Blog: Know your rechargeable battery risks
If you have a mobile phone, laptop, electric toothbrush, eScooter, eBike, any power tools, or solar power backup storage, you need to know how to reduce potentially deadly fire risks lurking in their batteries.
These common household items use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries which can be highly flammable. If these batteries are used incorrectly, or are damaged, they can overheat, explode and cause fires that can be dangerous and difficult to extinguish.
House fires, burns, chemical exposure, smoke inhalation and property damage have all been reported in connection with lithium-ion battery charging. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) saw a 92% increase in reported lithium-ion battery-related incidents in 2022 compared to 2020.
But you can take simple steps to reduce the risks, such as only using the charger recommended for the battery, unplugging products when they’re fully charged, and charging batteries in a cool and dry place out of direct sunlight and away from combustible materials like beds, lounges or carpets.
If your batteries overheat, appear to be swelling, or leak or vent gas, stop using them immediately, and never use damaged charging cables.
Disposal of these batteries also poses problems because the batteries can catch fire if they’re crushed, or exposed to heat or moisture in rubbish trucks, household rubbish, or waste facilities. Recycle Right at recycleright.wa.gov.au can help you find your closest drop-off point to dispose of lithium-ion batteries safely.
Lithium-ion batteries play a vital role in helping to achieve Australia’s transition to net zero emissions. But the safety of those using these batteries is paramount. The ACCC is recommending national regulations around testing, labelling and storage of these batteries to better protect consumers.
In the meantime, you can increase your safety by following Product Safety Australia’s easy and practical guide to understanding and managing the risks of lithium-ion battery fires at productsafety.gov.au
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