Rechargeable lithium batteries pose a growing risk of causing fires and explosions if not handled correctly.
Fire and Rescue NSW data shows there has been an almost 20 per cent increase in battery-related fire or explosion incidents, when comparing the first half 2023 to the first half of 2022.
In the first six months of 2023 there were 114 lithium battery related fires, with key items of concern being power packs and chargers, micro-mobility devices like e-bikes and e-scooters and portable power banks.
Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters offer residents of the Upper Hunter the following tips to avoid a lithium-ion battery emergency:
- Do not over-charge Lithium-ion batteries or leave them charging overnight unattended;
- Do 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;
- Avoid dropping, crushing or piercing the Lithium-ion battery cells;
- Store Lithium-ion batteries in a cool, dry area away from combustible materials;
- Larger devices like e-bikes and gardening tools should be stored outside of bedrooms and living spaces;
- Do not charge or use Lithium-ion batteries that show signs of damage; and
- Properly dispose of used Lithium-ion batteries.
There are several recycling options available to consumers.
Batteries can be taken to a Community Recycling Centre or dropped off at a dedicated recycling point available at many large retailers like Coles, Woolworths, Bunnings and Officeworks.
Products with batteries embedded in them, like mobile phones, laptops and power tools should be disposed of at an e-waste recycling facility or e-waste drop-off event.
Station Officer Sebastian Jacobs of Muswellbrook Fire Station 392 said "Lithium-ion batteries are not new, however, the increase in fires is a result of larger batteries being used in items like eScooters and e-bikes, which then find their way into our lounge rooms and garages."
"Then, if they're dropped and damaged, overcharged or exposed to moisture, an event known as thermal runaway can escalate very quickly, as we saw recently in a hostel fire in Darlinghurst.
"There will be a lot of gifts exchanged at Christmas, we need the community to be aware of the risks associated with the batteries that power these gifts".
Station Officer Jacobs stresses "with just a little bit of care and planning, a life changing disaster can be avoided".
More info here: https://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=9426