Working from home means we are all making use of many more battery-operated appliances such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.
Lithium batteries are compact, lightweight batteries that hold considerable charge and fare well under constant discharge-recharge conditions. The batteries are found everywhere — in laptop computers, cameras, cell phones, and electric cars. Although accidents are rare, those that do occur may be spectacular, resulting in an explosion or fire.
Lithium batteries are made to deliver high output with minimal weight. Battery components are designed to be lightweight, which translates into thin partitions between cells and a thin outer covering. The partitions or coating are fairly fragile, so they can be punctured. If the battery is damaged, a short occurs. This spark can ignite the highly reactive lithium.
Another possibility is that the battery can heat to the point of thermal runaway. Here, the heat of the contents exerts pressure on the battery, potentially producing an explosion.
Minimize the Risk of Lithium Battery Fire
The risk of fire or explosion increases if the battery is exposed to hot conditions or the battery or internal component is compromised. You can lessen the risk of an accident in several ways:
- Avoid storing at high temperatures. Do not keep batteries in hot vehicles. Do not allow a blanket to cover your laptop. Do not keep your cell phone in a warm pocket. You get the idea.
- Avoid keeping all your items containing lithium-ion batteries together. When you travel, especially on a plane, you will have all your electronic items in one bag. This is unavoidable because the batteries must be in your carry-on but usually, you can keep some space between battery-containing items. Although having lithium-ion batteries in proximity does not increase the risk of a fire, if there is an accident, the other batteries can catch fire and make the situation worse.
- Avoid overcharging your batteries. These batteries do not suffer "memory effect" as badly as other types of rechargeable batteries, so they can be discharged and recharged many times nearly back to their original charge. However, they do not fare well if they are completely drained before recharging or are over-charged. Car chargers are notorious for overcharging batteries. Using any charger other than the one intended for the battery can increase the risk of damage.
If a fire does occur as a result of your lithium-ion batteries, you need to ensure that you have the right fire extinguisher to tackle the fires.
Firechief Lith-Ex extinguishers are ideally suited for Lithium-ion based battery fires. The Lith-Ex Extinguisher is compact, lightweight, easy to store, non-toxic and environmentally friendly. It will extinguish uncontrollable flames, quickly cool the excessive heat, and prevent re-ignition, something that an ABC powder extinguisher or other liquid-based extinguishers will not be able to do on a Lithium-ion battery fire.
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