Many modern portable devices contain a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (LiB). This includes devices such as phones, tablets, power banks, computers, toys, appliances and tools, as well as mobility equipment such as electric bikes and scooters.
Lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) are energy-dense and contain material that is highly flammable. The risks and hazards associated with LiBs include fire and explosion, radiation, heat, chemical and electrical.
There are several situations that can lead to lithium-ion batteries catching fire, including:
When LiBs fail, they can undergo thermal runaway. This involves violent bursting of one or multiple battery cells, hissing and release of toxic, flammable and explosive gases, and an intense, self-sustaining fire.
Non-rechargeable or disposable lithium batteries, or lithium metal batteries should also be treated with caution as they can expel molten flammable metal and emit toxic gases during a fire. Small fires involving single use, disposable lithium batteries should be treated as a LiB fire.
To prevent an incident involving lithium-ion batteries (LiBs), only purchase and use devices and equipment from reputable manufacturers and suppliers.
Batteries that show any signs of damage should be disposed of carefully as they can become involved in a fire.
Damaged batteries and battery-powered devices include those that:
IMPORTANT: Never place batteries in your regular waste or recycling bins. Fires are known to occur in garbage trucks and waste facilities due to improper battery disposal.
Some batteries may also contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals and other environmental pollutants that can contaminate water supplies and ecosystems when incorrectly disposed of.
Thermal runaway events involving lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) can occur rapidly and can often be quite violent, involving toxic smoke and vapours, flames, and metal projectiles.
Never touch a swollen or ruptured device or battery with bare hands as the heat and/or chemicals can cause severe burns.
Act immediately if you notice any of the following:
Residential Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) are increasingly being used in combination with solar panel systems. This technology commonly contains lithium-ion batteries.
A residential BESS that has been damaged by impact, fire, or water ingress must not be put back into operation, even if it appears to be operational. Always assume that the equipment is energised.
If it is safe to do so:
Contact the manufacturer and/or an authorised technician to inspect, disconnect and remove the equipment if it has been compromised.
Damaged BESS should be moved to a well-ventilated area outside. Store at least three metres from any structures and/or combustible materials, then seek the manufacturer’s advice on disposal.
Electric vehicles (EVs) commonly contain lithium-ion batteries. Follow the below advice to minimise your risk.