Lithium-ion batteries are the culprit in an Oct. 22 house fire in Port St. Lucie, Florida, local firefighters said.
Investigators determined that lithium-ion batteries used for model cars were to blame for the fire, which left the house with a lot of smoke damage. Fortunately, nobody was injured in the blaze.
Capt. Paul Langel of the St. Lucie County Fire Protection District said the lithium-ion batteries in this case were charging and left unattended, according to WPTV West Palm Beach. He said lithium-ion batteries cam ignite while they’re charging, especially if the batteries aren’t charged on the proper charger.
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries give electronics and other consumer products a longer charge, but the batteries pack a lot of power in a small amount of space. The more power, the higher the risk of personal injury and damage if something goes wrong.
With lithium-ion batteries charging cell phones, laptops, tablets, hoverboards, Bluetooth speakers, vaping products, and so many other electronics around the house, the potential for a lithium-ion battery fire exists in more places than many people realize.
The fire potential increases when lithium-ion batteries are damaged, defectively manufactured, improperly stored, or misused. Even overcharging or using the wrong battery charger can cause the batteries to overheat, swell, and burst into flames, as was likely the case in the Port St. Lucie house fire.
Lithium-ion batteries burn with intense heat and can reignite even after being extinguished. You may be able to prevent a full-blown battery fire or explosion if you notice an unusual odor, excessive heat, any leakages, or unusual noises and safely move the charging device away from other objects or area that could catch fire, such as a bathtub.
Some other tips that will help protect you from a lithium-ion battery malfunction:
- Never leave your lithium-ion batteries in direct sunlight;
- Properly discard batteries that show signs of damage;
- Never charge batteries under pillows and blankets or other insulating objects and places;
- Do not use batteries that aren’t certified by a qualified testing laboratory;
- Only use batteries in the devices for which they were intended;
- Do not store loose batteries together or throw them in the garbage;
- Always charge your devices on a flat surface;
- Do not use an improper charger;
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe usage and care.