Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized the way we power the devices in our daily lives, from cell phones to electric cars. However, they do present potential hazards such as fires or explosions. These hazards can happen due to a variety of reasons, including poor battery manufacturing, overcharging, or damage to the battery cell. These issues can be avoided by using safe handling practices, but users should also know how to spot the precursors of lithium ion battery fires in order to keep themselves safe. Here are the warning signs that a battery fire could be on the horizon.
How to Spot the Lithium Batteries Danger Warning Signs
Physical damage, such as cracks or dents on the battery casing, is an easy-to-spot sign that a lithium-ion battery may be dangerous. Physical damage can cause the battery’s contents to leak, which can potentially lead to a fire. This damage is often caused by a battery being dropped or punctured, but can also be caused by extreme hot or cold temperatures. If your battery has been exposed to any of these conditions, be sure to check for physical damage before proceeding.
Excessive heat or overcharging can cause a lithium-ion battery cell to swell up, which is also known as “puffing.” If you notice that your battery is swollen, it is advisable to replace it or get it professionally checked. Stop using it immediately and replace it with a new one.
Overheating can be caused by faulty charging equipment or a damaged battery cell. If you notice that your device or battery is heating up more than it should, turn it off and unplug it immediately. Your battery should be safe to use again once it’s cooled down, but be sure to monitor for overheating during future use.
Lithium-ion batteries contain a liquid electrolyte solution that allows the lithium ions to move between the anode and cathode during charging and discharging cycles. This liquid is flammable and toxic to touch or ingest, so do not touch it if you notice a leak. Instead, dispose of your battery immediately by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
A strong chemical odor could be a sign of dangerous events to come. While this odor is not necessarily toxic on its own, it is likely a sign of a chemical or thermal reaction occurring inside the battery that could lead to fires or explosions. If you smell an odd smell, including that of smoke, turn your device off immediately and get it checked by a professional.
How to Handle a Lithium-ion Battery Fire
Although following the proper precaution protocols greatly reduces the risk of lithium-ion battery fires, they are still possible. Be ready to deal with them by learning these steps.
- Use a fire extinguisher. Do not use water to put out a lithium battery catching fire, as it causes a reaction and makes the fire worse. Use a fire extinguisher instead to safely put your fire out. A Class D fire extinguisher is preferred since it is specifically designed to handle combustible metals, but any fire extinguisher available will work.
- Call 9-1-1. Battery-caught fire can reignite minutes, or even hours after the initial incident. Call the fire department as soon as possible so they can come and professionally handle the situation.
- Keep a safe distance. Monitor the battery from a safe distance to make sure it doesn’t reignite and spread.
By taking lithium ion battery safety tips, you can enjoy the benefits of your lithium-ion batteries while keeping yourself and those around you safe.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to any member of the CM Batteries team. Every employee on our production floor, from front-line employees to functional purchasing agents, has undergone training on lithium battery safety and would be happy to share their expertise to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our customers.