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Beware lithium-ion batteries

Consumers are being urged to use and store lithium-ion batteries safely to prevent deadly fires, following another incident in Sydney involving a couple of French backpackers charging phones.

The ACCC is warning consumers about rare but serious fire hazards from lithium-ion batteries and is asking consumers to choose, check, use and dispose of the batteries safely in its latest report.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are used in common household items, including most mobile phones, laptops, tablets, e-scooters, e-bikes and power tools.

Whilst incidents are rare, they appear to be increasing and are serious when they occur. The batteries can overheat or explode if they are used, charged or disposed of incorrectly or if they are damaged, and fires caused by the batteries can be dangerous and difficult to extinguish.

“We are concerned by increasing reports of lithium-ion battery fires resulting in property damage and serious injuries, including burns, chemical exposure and smoke inhalation”, ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said.

One Australian has reportedly died in a lithium-ion battery fire and the ACCC has received 231 product safety reports relating to lithium-ion batteries in the past five years. There have also been 23 recalls affecting an estimated 89,000 products on the market.

“Managing lithium-ion battery safety is complex, and government, industry and consumers must tackle the challenge together”, Ms Lowe said.

“Consumers should avoid mixing and matching chargers, unplug products when fully charged and charge batteries in a cool, dry place and away from combustible materials like beds, lounges or carpet.”

“Check your lithium-ion batteries for overheating signs of swelling, leaking or venting gas and immediately stop using your product if these signs are present”, she added.

By 2026, it is estimated that a household will have on average 33 devices powered by lithium-ion batteries. As an increasing number of these products and batteries are disposed of, it’s critical there is adequate infrastructure for safe disposal.

Lithium-ion batteries are more likely to catch fire when exposed to heat and moisture, or crushed – common conditions in garbage trucks and household waste facilities.

“Consumers should keep lithium-ion batteries out of household rubbish and check recyclemate.com.au and bcycle.com.au for information about safe disposal,” Ms Lowe said. “We recommend that government and industry continue to develop solutions to ensure lithium-ion batteries are safely designed and can be sustainably disposed.”

The ACCC offers the following advice for safe use:

– Monitor charging times of lithium-ion products and disconnect products from chargers once they are fully charged. Consider setting timers as a reminder.
– Keep the batteries out of household garbage or recycling bins and kerbside hard waste collections.
– Charge away from combustible materials such as beds, sofas or carpet.
– Store batteries and lithium-ion products in cool, dry places and out of direct sunlight, including while charging.
– Do not use batteries, products or chargers that are overheating or showing signs of failure such as swelling, leaking or venting gas.
– Check the charger you are using is suitable for the product being charged.
– Allow time for batteries to cool after use and before charging.

In the event of a fire, consumers should contact 000 immediately. For more information on what to do in case of fire or explosion contact your state or territory fire department.

About Adam Nobel

CEO | Principal
M. Bus, Grad Dip Adv, B.Int Bus, LREA


0417 007 001

Adam is the founder and Principal of Hugo Alexander Property Group. With a previous career in advertising, 22 years experience in property investment, and 16 years in Brisbane real estate, he knows the market inside out to ensure his clients grow their wealth faster.

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