Recently, batteries inside a children’s toy sparked a serious building fire that caused over $100,000 in damages. The culprit? A lithium-ion battery; a rechargeable type commonly used in home electronics. These batteries work by moving lithium ions from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.
Though lithium-ion batteries undergo testing to be sold in the marketplace, they are susceptible to problems if overheated or overcharged. The batteries can also be dangerous because they contain a flammable electrolyte solution. Short-circuiting can lead to overheating and possibly cause a fire. A faulty battery or charger can also pose danger. While lithium-ion batteries are a major improvement over traditional batteries, it is important to follow safety tips:
- Remove batteries from toys or electronics before wrapping for gift-giving; store them separately.
- Do not use counterfeit and inferior batteries.
- Read instructions on battery safety and storage for the product(s) you are using.
- Pay attention to battery manufacturer recalls.
- Keep batteries from combustible heat sources.
- Store batteries in well-ventilated areas.
- Remove batteries from toys and electronics while storing.
- Supervise children using lithium-ion battery operated toys and electronics.
- Do not overcharge the batteries.
- After charging, unplug charger from the toy or electronic device. Also unplug charger from the wall.
- Do not store, leave, or charge devices with lithium-ion batteries in hot places, such as inside a vehicle.
- Pay attention to the date of manufacturing. Avoid buying or using old batteries which may deteriorate over time. The average lithium-ion battery lasts 2 to 3 years unused.