February 25, 2022

The Dangers of Chargers, Batteries & Cables

Cork local media reported on a significant house fire in December 2021 when an electric golf trolley “burst” into flames after making a “hissing and cracking” noise. The trolley was being charged in a bedroom and the occupant noticed the battery was getting hot and then a “ flame bursting from it”. He threw it out but the fire had already spread and there was extensive damage to the house.

We have dealt with a number of fires involving batteries and chargers or laptops placed on beds etc.

London Fire Brigade estimate they attend on average 24 fires each week that have been started by chargers, batteries and cables.

An issue would appear to be the lithium-ion battery which is found in electrical devices from scooters to e-cigarettes, phones, laptops and cameras. These batteries can present a fire risk when overcharged, short circuited or exposed to water.

Always use the charger that came with your phone, tablet or mobile device.

You should;

  • Avoid storing, using or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures.
  • Protect batteries from being damaged or exposed to water.
  • Don’t leave items continuously on charge after the charge cycle is complete. For example it is best not to leave your phone plugged in overnight.
  • Never cover chargers or charging devices and that includes using your laptop power lead in bed.
  • Never leave items such as phones or laptops charging on your bed or couch.

Dublin Fire Brigade reported recently that they had two “significant fires” associated with e-scooters or e-bikes. Fire Officers are warning owners of e-scooters not to charge them indoors.  Cork Fire Brigade have also advised people not to charge them overnight inside the house or when people are sleeping.

London Transport Authorities have apparently banned e-scooters in public transport after one of them caught fire on a tube and emitted toxic smoke suspected to be from a defective lithium-ion battery.

Dublin City Council reported concerns with any device using lithium-ion technology and over “spontaneous fires particularly whilst charging”. They stated that whilst e-scooters are “generally safe”  they present a fire risk if they are subject to abuse such as over-charging . They are particularly concerned with the storage of e-scooters and e-bicycles and “recommend that these are charged outside preferably, but certainly not in living areas, hallways or escape routes”.

Lithium-ion batteries usually contain a metal coil and flammable lithium-ion fluid. Tiny metal fragments float in the liquid. The contents of the battery are under pressure so if the battery is punctured or damaged lithium fluid can react vigorously with water or air generating intense heat and sometimes producing a fire.

This video gives some idea as to how quickly a fire develops in an e-scooter and how intensely it burns once developed.

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