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Is a Fire Hazard Lurking Within Your Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries power everything from laptops and smartphones to power tools and vehicles with efficiency and portability. However, their widespread use comes with significant risks.

Article content provided by Federated Insurance.

Lithium-ion batteries power everything from laptops and smartphones to power tools and vehicles with efficiency and portability. However, their widespread use comes with significant risks, as these batteries are causing a growing number of workplace fires.

Thermal Runaway Dangers
The convenience of lithium-ion batteries masks a potentially dangerous downside. A phenomenon known as "thermal runaway" can occur when improper use, storage, or charging leads to a cell failure within the battery. Once initiated, thermal runaway produces heat faster than it can be dissipated, potentially leading to explosions, smoke, and fire. The fires caused by these batteries can be challenging to extinguish, sometimes requiring thousands of gallons of water and posing the risk of reignition over subsequent hours or days.

Fire Prevention Strategies
To help mitigate risks, consider the following guidelines:

  • Using Certified Equipment: Ensure that batteries, chargers, and devices are listed by a qualified testing laboratory, such as UL, and avoid low-quality aftermarket replacements.
  • Adhering to Manufacturer Guidelines: For storage, use, and charging, following the manufacturer's instructions can significantly reduce the likelihood of battery failure.
  • Inspecting Equipment Regularly: Check batteries and devices for damage before use. Cracks, bulging, leaks, elevated temperatures, or any indication of distress warrant immediate removal from service.
  • Maintaining Proper Storage: Conduct all battery charging away from combustible materials, and keep batteries and devices in cool, dry places. Ensure charged devices are removed from chargers once full to prevent overcharging.
  • Ensuring Safe Disposal: Damaged batteries should be placed in a fire-resistant container away from combustibles and disposed of in accordance with instructions from a battery recycling center.

By fostering a culture of safety and awareness around the potential hazards of these batteries, you can play an important role in minimizing risks and ensuring a safer work environment for everyone.

 

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This article is for general information and risk prevention only and should not be considered legal or other expert advice. The recommendations herein may help reduce, but are not guaranteed to eliminate, any or all risk of loss. The information herein may be subject to, and is not a substitute for, any laws or regulations that may apply. Qualified counsel should be sought with questions specific to your circumstances. ©2023 Federated Mutual Insurance Company.