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Public Safety: What’s the Deal With Lithium-Ion Batteries?

By Lisa M. Grisham, CPSTI


Lithium-Ion batteries supply power to many types of devices including smart phones, laptops, scooters, e-cigarettes, some smoke alarms, toys, hover boards, and even cars. If not taken care of, they can lead to fires and even explosions. In Cherokee County, several fires have started due to problems with these types of batteries.  


What Are the Dangers Associated With Lithium-Ion Batteries?

These batteries store a large amount of energy in a small amount of space. Sometimes, batteries are used incorrectly or are possibly defective, which can lead to overheating followed by fire or an explosion. If you notice a change in color or shape, leaking, odd noises, an odor, or too much heat, move the device away from anything flammable (if possible) and call 911.  


In recent years, firefighters have discovered that lithium-ion battery fires are prone to reigniting due to the lithium salts in the battery. They are self-oxidizing, which means they can’t be “starved out” like traditional fires. 


How Do You Extinguish a Lithium-Ion Battery Fire? 

Lithium-ion batteries are considered a class B (flammable liquid) hazard. If the fire is small, a standard ABC fire extinguisher will do the trick. But this type of fire must be cooled to a temperature below the ignition point (932 degrees Fahrenheit) to prevent it from reigniting, which is why it’s a good idea to call 911 and let the experts handle the situation. 


As the popularity of electric vehicles and other devices that utilize lithium-ion batteries grows, so will the number of fires and other accidents that involve them. The chances of them catching fire are not high, but understanding the possibility and what to do if it occurs is crucial. 


What If the Battery No Longer Holds a Charge?

If the battery no longer holds a charge, proper disposal is important. Recycling is always the best option. Never throw lithium-ion batteries in the trash. Also, don’t store discarded batteries in piles. To find a location for recycling or disposal, please visit  


Additional Tips To Keep Your Family Safe

  • Purchase and use devices that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Only use the battery designed for that device. 
  • Put batteries in the device the correct way.
  • Only use the charging cord that came with the device.
  • Do not charge the device or device battery after it is fully charged.
  • Keep batteries at room temperature when possible. Do not charge them at temperatures below 32 degrees or above 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Store batteries away from anything that can catch fire.
  • Charge e-bikes and cars on a flat dry surface and away from children, direct sunlight, liquids, and tripping hazards (