Why Lithium Batteries Catch Fire & How To Prevent It

lithium batteries not on planeslithium batteries for electronics
Lithium batteries are everywhere – in laptops, cell phones, marine, solar and alarm systems, vehicles and more. With today’s news about a lithium battery catching on fire on a Jet Blue flight, concerns about safety are heightened. ClickAway technicians constantly monitor computer safety and have these suggestions to prevent lithium batteries catching on fire.

Why Lithium Batteries Can Catch Fire
Lithium batteries are made to deliver a high output with minimal weight. Battery components are designed to be light weight, 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 can occur. 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 a fire.

ClickAway Advise For Avoiding Lithium Battery Fires
• Avoiding storing at high temperatures. Don’t keep batteries in hot vehicles. Don’t allow a blanket to cover your laptop. Don’t 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’ll have all your electronic items in one bag. This is unavoidable because the batteries have to be in your carry-on, but usually you can keep some space between battery-containing items. Although having lithium ion batteries in close 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 risk of damage.

• Contact ClickAway if your device is running hot. There may be a recall that you are unaware of. In January, HP expanded its recall of laptop batteries for notebooks under its brand and Compaq because of potential burn and fire hazards.

The recent Jet Blue flight matter reminds us all to check our devices for optimum performance. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration logged 31 cases last year in which lithium-based batteries either caught fire or smoldered on airline flights. Contact ClickAway if you have any concerns about your devices at 800-960-9030.

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