After two fires in the last two weeks, the Chambersburg Fire Department is warning people about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries.
The fire department said the batteries are being used more often in a number of devices, including smart phones, laptops, scooters, e-bikes, e-cigarettes, toys and electric vehicles, and they can be a source of clean power, but can quickly lead to fires when they fail.
The department responded to two fires recently involving lithium-ion batteries, one from an e-bike battery and the other from a weed-trimmer battery that overheated while it was on a charger. In the first case, the battery was damaged and mishandled before self-igniting, and the second case resulted in significant damage to a garage, according to the department.
OSHA estimates that lithium-ion batteries cause about 5,000 fires each year, which can be caused by defective batteries or those that are not used in the right way or disposed of properly.
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Because lithium-ion batteries can quickly explode or cause a fire to develop rapidly, the fire department recommends that people stop using the batteries if they notice an odor, change in color, too much heat generated, change in shape, leaks or odd noises. Residents should call 911, and, if it’s safe, move the battery away from anything that can catch fire.
The fire department had several safety tips, including purchasing and using devices that have been tested, properly monitoring batteries while they are charging, following the manufacturer’s instructions, not charging devices on furniture, not charging the device after it is fully charged, keeping batteries at room temperature, storing batteries away from flammable items, having working smoke detectors and using only designated cords or correct devices with the batteries.
Because of the dangers lithium-ion batteries pose, they also cannot be disposed of in the household trash. The fire department said they should be recycled through a battery recycling location or residents can contact their municipality for disposal instructions.
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