If a lithium battery is improperly manufactured, handled, stored or disposed of, it can catch fire. A lithium ion battery fire is extremely intense and frequently leads to an explosion, which spreads the fire quickly. These fires can be very difficult to put out with water and other types of chemicals may be required to extinguish them. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with lithium ion batteries and the steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a fire either in your home or workshop, or even out on the road.
What is a lithium ion battery?
A lithium ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery. It is made up of cells in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.
What types of products use lithium ion batteries?
- Electric vehicles, including cars, bikes and scooters
- Power tools
- Camping and gardening equipment
- Smartphones, laptops, toys, and appliances such as vacuum cleaners
There are a number of things that can increase the risk of a lithium ion battery catching fire or exploding:
- Improper manufacturing
- Physical damage
- Exposure to high temperatures or moisture
- Storing batteries close together
Steps to ensure safe use of lithium ion batteries:
- Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions and guidelines
- Buy lithium ion batteries from a reputable supplier
- Dispose of lithium ion batteries in accordance with local authority guidelines (not in the bin)
- Turn chargers off once the battery is fully charged and allow the battery to cool before recharging
- Never use or store batteries that are swollen, punctured, leaking or emitting smoke or odour
For many of you in the motor trades, it is likely you will, at one stage or another, have an electric vehicle (EV) in your workshop. Storing and/or moving damaged EVs with forklifts or transporting them on a tow truck will pose a considerable fire risk if the lithium ion batteries have been damaged.
In a recent claim, an EV’s lithium ion battery was believed to have been damaged by a forklift prior to the Member taking possession of the vehicle. The EV later caught fire from the damaged battery whilst being stored at the Member’s premises, which resulted in a multi-million dollar loss.
This is very much an emerging technology which comes with new challenges and risks for us all. Being aware of the risks and knowing how to identify and manage them may just save a life, your home or your business premises.
For further information about the options available to protect against losses related to EV batteries, contact your local Risk Account Manager, call AU: 1300 007 022, NZ: 0800 555 303 or email email@example.com.
Australia: 1 Products sold through Capricorn Risk Services Pty Ltd (ABN 91 111 632 789) are: (i) discretionary risk protection products issued by Capricorn Mutual Ltd; and (ii) general insurance products issued by a range of insurers and brokered through Capricorn Insurance Services Pty Ltd. Before deciding to acquire any product, you should consider the Product Disclosure Statement available from Capricorn Risk Services Pty Ltd to see if the product is appropriate for you. Capricorn Risk Services Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 460893) of Capricorn Mutual Ltd (AFSL 230038) and Capricorn Insurance Services Pty Ltd (AFSL 435197). Capricorn Mutual Ltd has published a Target Market Determination for its protection which is available at capricorn.coop/about/capricorn-mutual.
New Zealand: 1 Products sold through Capricorn Risk Services Pty Ltd include discretionary risk protection and general insurance products. Discretionary risk protection is issued out of Australia by Capricorn Mutual Ltd. Before deciding to acquire discretionary risk protection, you should consider the Product Disclosure Statement to see if it is appropriate for you. This can be obtained from Capricorn Risk Services by phone 0800 555 303, email firstname.lastname@example.org or website capricorn.coop/risk. General insurance products are issued by a range of insurers and are available through Capricorn Risk Services Pty Ltd as a member broker of PSC Connect NZ Limited. Capricorn Risk Services is a registered financial services provider (390466) and a corporate Authorised Representative (No. 460893) of Capricorn Mutual Ltd (AFSL 230038). Capricorn Mutual Ltd has published a Target Market Determination for its protection, which is available at capricorn.coop/about/capricorn-mutual.