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Stay safe with lithium batteries

Lithium battery fires are on the increase across the country, as items such as e-bikes and e-scooters become more popular.

We are working in partnership with Norfolk Trading Standards to prevent lithium battery-related fires from happening by sharing important safety advice.

What are lithium batteries?

Lithium batteries are the lightweight, rechargeable batteries that can be found in household electrical items, such as:

  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Mobility scooters
  • e-bikes
  • e-scooters
  • e-cigarettes
  • Hover boards

If these batteries become damaged or begin to fail, they can start fires which can quickly spread out of control and cause a serious fire in just a few minutes. This is especially dangerous in larger items such as e-bikes, e-scooters and mobility scooters.

Please follow this advice to make sure you, your home and your loved ones stay safe: 

Charging lithium batteries safely

Nine simple ways you can reduce the risks when charging lithium batteries:

  1. Store and charge larger items with lithium batteries, such as e-bikes or e-scooters outside your home in a garage/outbuilding, where possible. If you need to charge them inside, it's best to do so in a room with a door that can be closed and not anywhere that could block your exit, like a hallway.
  2. Keep an eye out for warning signs that your battery might be failing and becoming a fire risk.
  3. Always charge your battery while you are at home and awake. If a fire starts while you are out or asleep, you won't be able to call 999 quickly.
  4. Make sure your battery and charger meet UK safety standards
  5. Use the correct charger for your battery, either the one that came with the product or has been recommended by its manufacturer. Make sure to buy from a reputable seller and avoid cheap versions available in places such as market stalls or online market places.
  6. If a battery is already hot, don't charge it
  7. Make sure you leave chargers and battery packs uncovered. Covering them could lead to a fire.
  8. Unplug your charger once the battery has charged, over charging can result in a fire
  9. Fit smoke alarms in the area where you charge your batteries, test them once a week to make sure they're working. Test it Tuesday!

Warning signs your lithium battery could be a fire hazard

  • Is it hot? Batteries can often get a little warm, but if your battery feels extremely hot, there's chance it's defective and may start a fire.
  • Does it look odd? A battery bulging or swelling out of shape is a common sign of it failing. If you notice this, you should stop using it immediately. This also applies if there are any lumps or leaking.
  • Can you hear anything? Faulty lithium batteries have also been reported to make hissing or cracking sounds.
  • Does it smell? If you notice a strong or unusual smell coming from the battery, it could be faulty.
  • Is it working properly? Failing to charge or taking longer than usual  to charge could mean the battery is failing.
  • Can you see smoke? If your battery or device is smoking, a fire has already started. Call 999 - get out of the house and stay out.

What should I do if my lithium battery shows signs of being a fire risk?

If your battery shows any of these signs, immediately turn it off and unplug it. Call the device manufacturer or retailer for further instructions.

If you see smoke or fire, raise the alarm, get out, stay out and call 999 immediately.

Make sure you report any issue with a trader or a product to Trading Standards: Find out how to report something to trading standards

Batteries don't belong in the bin!

Lithium batteries should not be placed in the same bins as your regular rubbish or recycling due to risk of fire. Fires have broken out in waste and recycling lorries because people have put batteries in their bins.

Some councils in Norfolk run a special weekly battery collection service. Check with your local authority for advice on how to safely dispose of batteries. Find your local council.

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