Christmas shoppers warned about surging battery fires


Christmas shoppers have been warned about the dangers of charging Lithium-ion products and to beware of sub-standard Lithium-ion battery-powered devices as fires surge across the state.

Consumers are advised to shop safely as well as for value, to ensure the gifts under the tree do not ruin the festive season.

The latest Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) statistics show an increase of nine per cent in Lithium-ion battery fires to date, compared with the entire year of 2022. There have been 180 battery related fires so far this year, already outnumbering the 165 Lithium-ion battery-related fires to which FRNSW responded to last year.

The NSW Government is raising awareness of how to prevent these potentially deadly fires and save lives. Households are urged to use, store and dispose of batteries safely to combat the surge in house, garbage truck and waste facility fires.

To help ensure batteries are used safely, FRNSW also advises to:

  • not over-charge Lithium-ion batteries or leave them charging overnight unattended
  • not charge Lithium-ion batteries on beds, sofas or around highly flammable and insulating materials
  • always use compliant and approved charging equipment for Lithium-ion batteries, don’t mix and match components and voltage
  • avoid dropping, crushing or piercing the Lithium-ion battery cells
  • store Lithium-ion batteries in a cool, dry area away from combustible materials, and larger devices like e-bikes and gardening tools should be stored outside of bedrooms and living spaces
  • not charge or use Lithium-ion batteries that show signs of damage

Find out more about battery and charging safety.

Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:

“Firefighters are responding to an average of more than three battery fires a week from in-home charging issues or incorrect disposal. Batteries are featuring more prominently in fire statistics, with lithium power packs and charger fires an increasing concern for fire crews.”

“When shopping for gifts this Christmas don’t cut corners when buying Lithium-ion battery-powered products, we don’t want a gift under the tree to ruin the festive season.”

“These batteries are used to power everything from mobile phones and laptops to vacuum cleaners and e-scooters. We would encourage people to choose carefully and consider how they use them in the home.”

“These fires can cause significant damage to a home and we encourage homeowners to take care when charging devices, follow charging instructions and dispose of used battery products safely.”

“If you are unsure about using batteries, our firefighters are part of the local community and I encourage you to ask their advice.”

Minister for Fair Trading Anoulack Chanthivong said:

“Since March 2023, NSW Fair Trading has conducted inspections of 166 retailers selling electrical articles, including 39 models of e-bikes and e-scooters powered by Lithium-ion batteries. Inspectors found 30 models with non-compliant chargers and the retailers were instructed to remove them from sale.”

“When these products fail, it can come at terrible cost. I’m reminding buyers to store batteries safely and if they have concerns they should reach out to the manufacturer or NSW Fair Trading.”

“NSW Fair Trading is continuing to inspect products and businesses to inform the public of any concerns and to educate consumers about the dangers of Lithium-ion batteries.”

Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Penny Sharpe said:

“Bins are not the place for batteries. When damaged or crushed, such as in a garbage truck, they can start fires that are difficult to put out.”

“More dedicated battery recycling points are popping up in shopping centres and office blocks, and at many council facilities, so do the right thing and take them to a drop off point for safe disposal.”

FRNSW Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell said:

“If a battery is compromised through damage or overheating, it can go into what we call ‘Thermal Runaway. It will pop and crackle, then give off toxic gas before exploding in intense flames that are extremely difficult to extinguish.”

“If you’re buying presents that require Lithium-Ion batteries this Christmas, make sure those batteries are manufactured by a trusted company. You’d want peace of mind…if the price is too good to be true or there’s no recognised brand on the batteries, steer clear and ensure you’re shopping for a quality product.”

/Public Release. View in full here.