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Rising Number of Garage Fires Linked to Lithium-ion Batteries

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A surge in garage fires has sparked concerns among residents and fire departments alike, with at least one recent local San Tan Valley fire being traced back to the charging of lithium-ion batteries. Fire departments across the nation have been grappling with a significant increase in fires caused by these batteries, which power a wide range of devices, including vapes, computers, cell phones, e-bikes, and e-scooters.

In New York, over 200 fires have been reportedly caused by e-bikes, electric scooters, and similar mobility devices, making lithium-ion battery explosions the third leading cause of fires in the city, according to the fire department. Rural Metro Fire has also observed a dramatic uptick in garage fires, a common location for charging lithium-ion batteries in tools and micro mobility devices.

The danger posed by fires related to lithium-ion batteries has become so significant that some lawmakers and federal regulators are now focusing their attention on addressing safety concerns. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received over 200 reports since 2021 involving fires or hazardous overheating caused by lithium-ion batteries in e-mobility devices, with 19 deaths linked to these incidents.

This is not the first time lithium-ion batteries have made headlines for their safety risks. In 2006, major computer companies like Dell and Apple recalled millions of laptops due to overheating issues with these batteries. Additionally, three major vehicle manufacturers recalled electric vehicles following battery ignitions, advising owners to park their cars outside to minimize damage to garages and attached homes.

To prevent fires, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the New York Fire Department recommend charging lithium-ion batteries under supervision and unplugging the devices once they are fully charged. Other suggestions include charging batteries away from flammable materials, using the original manufacturer's charging equipment, and regularly inspecting devices and batteries for damage.

Homeowners are also encouraged to install heat alarms or smoke alarms in garages and attics, as well as ensure that their homes are equipped with at least one fire extinguisher, ideally in the garage or kitchen, where fires are most common. Every home should have working smoke alarms.

As lithium-ion batteries become an increasingly integral part of our lives and homes, it is essential to be cautious and respectful of their productive and destructive power. By following safety recommendations and being vigilant, residents can continue to enjoy the benefits of technology while minimizing the risks associated with these devices.
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Wednesday, 19 June 2024

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