Safe Navigation: Understanding Hazards and Safety Tips for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Industrial use of lithium-ion batteries has been increasing over the past decade due to their long life, superior power/energy output, low maintenance, and lower weight. These benefits provide increased efficiency and cost saving. However, there is a flip side to consider. Additional hazards need to be identified, understood, and considered when changing and approving the devices used in classified areas. lessons learned from incidents with lithium-ion batteries and some recommendations on what you can do to better understand and prevent lithium-ion battery fires and explosions.

Did You Know?
  • Battery fire incidents are becoming more common because lithium-ion batteries are now in many consumer products, such as laptops, cameras, smartphones and more.
  • Devices have increased hazards during charging. Larger capacity batteries have a higher fire risk.
  • Fires involving Lithium-ion batteries are fast, intensive, difficult to contain or extinguish, and can produce hazardous fumes and gases.
  • The batteries can also explode. After extinguishing, quarantine and monitoring are necessary - the batteries can re-ignite.
  • Faulty manufacturing, damage, misuse and aging of batteries can also increase the risk of battery fires.
  • Emergency response personnel must be trained on the proper extinguishing methods when responding to a lithium-ion battery fire.

What Can You Do?

  • Buy electronic devices from reputable retailers and use compatible batteries and chargers certified by a reputable agency.
  • If a fire occurs, unplug the battery if it can be done safely. Then evacuate the area and call emergency services. DO NOT try to put the fire out.
  • Batteries should also be routinely inspected to make sure there is no cracking, bulging or leaking.
  • Charging lithium-ion batteries creates heat. Do it on a solid surface and in an area with good ventilation. When charging a lithium-ion powered device, do it in a safe area and monitor the charging. Once a battery is fully charged, unplug it.
  • Never throw lithium-ion batteries in the general trash. They require special disposal. Consult local waste disposal services for proper handling. If you use battery-powered vehicles in your plant only park them in approved areas, never near flammable materials.

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