Lithium-ion batteries power many modern devices, including e-bikes, e-scooters, smartphones, and vapes. They’re compact, lightweight, efficient, rechargeable, and affordable. But unfortunately, they also carry certain safety risks.
In this post we’ll discuss the safety risks that surround lithium batteries and outline some steps you can take to keep yourself and your property safe.
Are You Covered For Lithium Battery Risks?
As we’ve already suggested, lithium-ion batteries are everywhere. If you run a business such as a vape shop, or if you use electric vehicles in your commercial fleet, then it’s important to ensure that your business insurance covers you for the risks that lithium batteries might pose. If you’ve got any questions, get in touch and we’ll help you find the tailored cover that meets your specific needs.
Lithium Battery Fire Risks
Lithium-ion batteries contain a flammable electrolyte. If they get damaged, they can become pressurised, which can result in fires. Also, charging a lithium-ion battery too quickly can cause a short circuit, which can lead to fires, or even explosions.
There have been a number of documented cases of fires linked to damaged, faulty, or overloaded lithium batteries:
- In 2016, battery faults caused many Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to combust, forcing Samsung to discontinue the model and issue a product recall.
- The Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet was grounded in 2013 due to electrical faults linked to its lithium-ion batteries.
- Transport for London banned e-scooters from their network in 2021 following battery fire risk concerns.
- London Fire Brigade figures revealed a 164% jump in e-scooter battery-related fires in 2021.
- In 2018, a man in Florida died having received burns over 80% of his body after his e-cigarette exploded. That same year, a woman in Essex was injured when her e-cigarette suddenly exploded in her handbag.
How Serious Are The Risks of Lithium-ion Batteries?
Because of these fire risks, lithium-ion batteries are subjected to stringent testing standards and shipping limitations. Yet as the above examples show, even with these precautions in place, accidents can still happen.
It’s unreasonable to think of every lithium-ion battery as a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. But at the same time, it’s important to take certain precautions when using any product or vehicle that contains a lithium-ion battery.
Lithium-ion Battery Precautions
The specific precautions you take when working with lithium-ion batteries will depend on the nature of the device you’re using. For example, you’ll only use a vape or an electric scooter for a short period of time a few times a day. Whereas you’ll likely have your smartphone switched on around the clock.
Nonetheless, these general precautions will help keep you and your property safe whenever you use any device powered by a lithium-ion battery:
- Only buy or use electrical products from reputable and recognised retailers. This will make it more likely that their batteries will have gone through the rigorous testing standards we mentioned above.
- Only ever use the charger that came with your device. If you need to buy an extra or a replacement charger, make sure it matches the specifications of your device exactly.
- Don’t charge e-scooters or e-bikes indoors. If you must charge them indoors, do so in a room without any soft furnishings, such as a kitchen or a garage.
- Try not to leave any devices charging overnight, or unattended. Make sure all the smoke detectors in your home are working, so that you’ll be aware of any fires as early as possible.
- Overcharging a device can lead to fires. Many devices will automatically cut off when they reach a full charge. But just in case, remember to unplug your device once it’s charged, and set yourself an alarm or a reminder if need be.
- Don’t leave any devices in direct sunlight, or near any sources of heat. And don’t charge devices in sub-zero temperatures, as this can compromise the battery’s safety.
- If any of your devices get damaged, it can make fires more likely. So if you crash your e-scooter or drop your phone or laptop, have it checked by an expert for damages, and replace the battery if necessary.
- Lithium-ion batteries can degrade over time. If your device is taking longer to charge, or if the battery runs down much faster than usual, then get a new battery – or a new device – as soon as possible. Internal short circuits are more likely with older batteries.
Understand The Fire Risks For Your Business
Does your business insurance cover you for the fire risks associated with lithium-ion batteries?
Whether you sell products that contain lithium batteries (such as vapes), or your business runs on lithium batteries (in electric vehicles, laptops or smartphones), it’s vital that your business insurance covers you for any potential risks.
We have a team of experts on hand to help who can advise on your insurance needs. They can also help you to understand the risks that you may face as a business. Contact us on 020 8290 9080 or email email@example.com.