The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) is warning residents of the dangers of lithium batteries following an increase in serious and fatal incidents across the country.

Lithium batteries can be found in cars, bicycles, scooters, laptops, phones, and e-cigarettes, among many other items. Fire and rescue services are most concerned about the significant fire risk from electric vehicles, including e-bikes and e-scooter batteries, after several deaths in the UK were linked to fires caused by them.

The danger arises when e-bikes and e-scooters are left charging and unattended in homes or in common areas such as hallways and stairwells. They can block emergency escape routes in multi-occupancy buildings, making it more difficult to evacuate in the event of a fire. Charging lithium batteries indoors increases the risk of fire, especially if they are charged overnight when occupants are sleeping.

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Fire Chief Neil Odin said:

“E-bikes and e-scooters fitted with lithium batteries can catch fire quickly and without warning if not handled and maintained properly or if they are of poor quality. If lithium batteries overheat while charging they are also at risk of exploding. s in the future.

“To help ensure the safety of all members of your family, do not leave lithium batteries to charge unattended, place them in the way of exits or in hallways, and unplug chargers when batteries are at full capacity.”

It’s not just house fires that are of concern, as there have also been increasing reports of fires in the waste and recycling system caused by batteries and electrical appliances containing batteries. In response to this, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has partnered with Material Focus to produce a new “Stop Battery Fires” safety video that emphasizes the dangers of throwing away batteries and the importance of never throwing away and always recycling batteries and electrical devices containing batteries.

Increased production and storage of lithium batteries also has potential safety implications for the community and fire and rescue services, due to the likelihood of these units exploding when involved in a fire. Last year, HIWFRS Fire Chief Neil Odin sent a letter to council chiefs warning of the dangers of lithium batteries and the growing number of battery storage facilities across the country.

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Best tips:

  • Always use the charger supplied with your product as poor quality chargers can damage the batteries and increase the risk of fire.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging the batteries and unplug them when charging is complete.
  • Never leave a charger plugged in overnight or unattended.
  • Choose only genuine brand name products from a reputable retailer.
  • Avoid storing, using, or charging batteries at extremely high or low temperatures.
  • Don’t overload your outlets.
  • Be sure to regularly check the batteries for signs of damage.
  • If a battery won’t hold a charge, gets hot, swells, or you hear hissing noises while charging, unplug it immediately.
  • Always charge e-bikes/e-scooters away from exits and your escape routes so you can easily escape in the event of a fire.
  • Never cover chargers or batteries as this may cause overheating or fire.
  • Install working smoke detectors on every floor of your home, including areas where you store or charge your e-bike/e-scooter.
  • If there are obvious signs of fire such as the battery smoking or flames, raise the alarm immediately, get out, stay outside and call 999.

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