Fire Safety Tips for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are in many new devices and with the rise of this battery’s use, the number of incidents of battery fires have increased. The recharging capability of these types of batteries contributes to their popularity but also to their combustibility. Rural Metro Fire has noticed an increase in house fires caused by these types of batteries. We want all our community members to know how to treat your lithium-ion battery-powered devices properly to prevent fires and what steps to take if a fire should occur.

Lithium-ion Battery Care


To prevent battery fires, it is important to properly care for your batteries. Improperly recharging your batteries is one of the most common ways people cause damage to the battery cell which can lead to fire. It is recommended to only use the cords supplied with or for your device when recharging. Don’t leave fully charged devices on the charger overnight or for extended periods of time. Overcharging can damage the battery. Conversely, draining the battery completely has damaging impacts on the battery too.


Storing batteries properly also helps to prevent fires. Avoid exposing batteries to extremes in temperature. Keep batteries out of direct sunlight and don’t leave lithium-ion batteries in a vehicle. Do not allow the battery to be crushed, exposed to high moisture environments or otherwise damaged, as this can lead to fire.


Preventing and Responding to Lithium-Ion Battery Fires


Proper care of your lithium-Ion battery powered devices is the best way to prevent fires. If your battery has been compromised and is at risk of fire, properly dispose of the battery immediately. Municipal garbage collectors may have a special pickup protocol for these batteries, or there may be other collection points in the community for your nonfunctional lithium -ion batteries. Do not throw the batteries away in your trash receptacle.


Choose carefully where you recharge devices in your home. Do not block exits with charging devices, like near the door of a bedroom. If the device catches fire, you do not want to become trapped. It is not recommended to charge vehicles or scooters with lithium-ion batteries in a garage. If you must, be sure to equip your charging area with smoke detectors to be aware of a fire as quickly as possible. Try to move combustibles from the area in a garage where you recharge vehicles to avoid worsening a battery fire.


Like all fires, dial 911 and have a fire extinguisher that is operational and learn how to use it. When lithium-ion batteries catch fire, they release toxic gases. Especially for larger battery fires, it may not be safe for you to attempt to extinguish them on your own. Rural Metro Firefighters are prepared for these events with specialized equipment and respirators to make extinguishing these fires less risky to our crews. For smaller fires, prolonged dousing of the battery in water may be needed to put out the fire. Batteries that have caught fire should be placed in a safe area outdoors, even if the fire appears to be out, since other parts of the battery can later ignite.


If your battery is not a lithium-ion battery, but a Lithium-metal battery, DO NOT expose the battery to water as Lithium and water react. These types of batteries can only be put out with a class D fire extinguisher. All batteries present a risk to children and devices with them should be closely supervised by an adult while in use by a child.


For more information on Lithium-ion batteries risk, visit the National Fire Prevention Agency (NFPA) website. For assistance in inspecting your home for potential fire safety hazards, contact Rural Metro for a free-for-members inspection today.