September 26, 2017

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Lithium-Ion Battery Fires

Gordon Graham
Category: Public Safety

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for public safety.

If you see a battery fire, or experience one yourself, here are a few tips. 

Today’s Tip deals with the safety concerns of lithium-ion batteries. Today’s Tip is not only for anyone who carries a portable electronic device, it is also for anyone who works in a property or evidence room where these devices might be stored.  

Technology is always changing and improving. And battery technology is no exception. But some battery technology has a downside that could present a significant safety hazard.  

Lithium-ion battery packs can develop what’s been called a “runaway battery” condition. This is where the battery temperature soars to more than 350 degrees and the battery ruptures. The rupture can cause an explosion and a release of flammable gas and electrolyte. A small but intense fire can occur. This fire presents a health and a safety hazard to those nearby.  

Different devices, from cell phones to laptop computers, have experienced these explosions and fires. No too long ago, the FAA banned certain devices from airplanes because of the risk. 

If you see a battery fire, or experience one yourself, here are a few tips. 

First, use water or a fire extinguisher to put the fire out. Then follow up with more water to cool the other cells in the battery so they do not also catch fire. Isolate the area. Keep an eye on the device and battery. Look for more smoke or other signs of continuing fire. Do not move the device or battery, and do not package it, until it has completely cooled.  

Most of us will use electronic devices without any problem. But it is important to recognize the risk, however slight. Even more important is knowing what you can do if a fire occurs.  

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. 

Gordon Graham, signing off. 

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