Lithium-ion Batteries – Silent Threat In Our Homes

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

Our lives are filled with devices powered by lithium-ion batteries – e-rideables, power tools, laptops, toys, smartphones, electric vehicles and even electric toothbrushes. Unfortunately, they also harbour a hidden danger. Lithium-ion batteries, no matter how small, are susceptible to fiery failures that can escalate quickly and pose a serious threat to our safety. These fires can be very difficult to extinguish with water and battery contents may reignite or explode several days later.

You’re not mistaken if you’ve been thinking it seems like every few days there is a news story about another lithium-ion battery fire. Last year, an average of two fires per week were sparked by these batteries. WA is on track to beat that figure in 2024 with 55 battery fires already recorded. Almost 20 of those fires were caused by e-rideables.

Along with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Consumer Protection’s Product Safety team want people to check, use and dispose of these batteries safely.

Consumers should avoid mixing and matching chargers, unplug products when fully charged and charge batteries on a hard surface in a cool, dry place and away from flammable materials like beds, lounges or carpet. Also look for the tick and check the charger has the Regulatory Compliance Mark to show it meets Australian Standards.

E-rideables like e-bikes, hover boards and e-scooters, should be charged outside of the home and never left to charge overnight. It’s also worth considering installing a smoke or heat alarm where these devices are charged. It could save your life.

Lithium-ion batteries are more likely to catch fire when exposed to heat and moisture, or if they’re crushed – common conditions in garbage trucks and household bins.

For this reason, never put lithium-ion batteries in your household waste or recycling bin. Chucking batteries in the bin can cause rubbish and recycling trucks to catch fire and waste facilities to burn. This endangers the lives of workers and costs the ratepayers.

Instead take lithium-ion batteries to the nearest battery drop-off point, which can be found at Recycle Right.

Always purchase reputable lithium-ion powered products and check them for damage regularly. Look for signs of overheating, swelling, leaking or venting gas. If the battery is damaged follow the safety tips from the Waste Authority for transporting it to a Household Hazardous Waste collection facility. Or check with your local council to see if they can assist with disposal.

Learn more about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries on the Department of Fire and Emergency Service’s website.

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