Li-ion battery safety warning issued ahead of Christmas

Thursday, 08 December, 2022

Li-ion battery safety warning issued ahead of Christmas

Consumer Protection WA has warned those buying or receiving a lithium-ion powered gift this Christmas to take charge of their safety, as Li-ion battery chargers, and the way they are used, can be more dangerous than the devices they power. Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said it is critical people buying from the likes of eBay and Gumtree understand that lithium-ion powered devices should only be used with original or compatible battery chargers.

“Don’t skimp on battery chargers, you can’t afford the ultimate cost. Without the correct charger to go with a lithium-ion battery, you are inviting trouble to Christmas lunch. The complex chemical nature of these batteries can make them unstable when damaged, hot, overcharged or connected incorrectly. All too often a cheap, incompatible charger becomes an ignition switch,” Newcombe said.

Statistics from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services show that rechargeable batteries have caused 300% more fires in the first half of the financial year than occurred four years ago. The data shows that there were 180 lithium-ion battery fires reported this year in New South Wales, compared to 16 in 2021. Consumer Protection has also warned that taking charge of Christmas requires people to remain lithium-ion battery vigilant throughout the year.

Batteries should be charged outside, but not in the sun. Consumers should also turn the power source off once batteries have been charged, and call 000 immediately if a fire occurs — putting out the fire foes not stop the chemical reaction and batteries may reignite or explode several days later.

“We are talking about toys, power tools, e-rideables, and laptops — anything that uses a lithium-ion battery. Please remember you cannot simply set and forget when recharging,” Newcombe said.

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