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Be careful when charging lithium-ion battery devices, warns the Calgary Fire Department

Be careful when charging lithium-ion battery devices, warns the Calgary Fire Department

The Calgary Fire Department is warning residents to be aware of fire hazards when using electronic devices with lithium-ion batteries, which can cause fires if improperly charged and stored.

Chief Steve Dongworth said there is nothing dangerous about lithium-ion batteries, which can be found in mobile phones, laptops and power tools as well as devices in electric cars and scooters. The challenge is how people can safely store and charge devices with this type of battery.

“It’s not being used with the right charger. It’s overcharging. Sometimes we see cellphones charging where the cellphone is on the bed or covered and there’s no ventilation,” Dongworth said.

With the holiday season upon us and electronic gifts waiting under the tree, the fire chief said it’s important to follow manufacturers’ instructions with electronic devices and use the proper charger to avoid overcharging. Other ways to prevent fires are to ensure that cell phones are not stored under pillows while charging and that outlets are not overloaded.

According to Dongworth, the Calgary Fire Department responded to eight calls related to lithium-ion battery fires in 2022.

“These are inherently safe products,” says the fire chief

Dongworth said multiple lithium-ion battery fires the department has responded to this year have occurred in garages, indicating residents are not properly charging their electric cars, lawn mowers or snow blowers.

“These are inherently safe products,” Dongworth said. “When human behavior comes in and maybe … we’ve changed the wiring in some way or we plug in the wrong type of charger or we don’t follow the instructions, I think that’s where the risk lies.”

Lithium-ion batteries can be found in devices ranging from cell phones and laptops to electric cars and scooters. (Tom Ross/CBC)

Dongworth said if there is a fire in the home caused by an electronic device, try to put it out only if it’s a small fire and there’s a BC fire extinguisher nearby – the type of extinguisher that puts out flammable liquids and electrical equipment fires. . If the fire is large, Dongworth said leave the area immediately and call 911.

The fire chief has encouraged Calgarians to check the city’s website to find out where to properly recycle devices with lithium-ion batteries, which can start fires if placed in landfills.

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