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Avoid battery fires

February Blog Post Battery Safety

This week, we celebrate one of the most convenient inventions to enter our lives—batteries. February 18 was National Battery Day, and in recognition of this important device, CM Regent is taking a look at lithium-ion batteries to help you recognize the risks to your school if you don’t use them properly.

What are lithium-ion batteries?

Lithium-ion is the predominant commercial form of rechargeable batteries, used in many different kinds of electronics. It can take the form of a battery pack or a cylindrical battery. Some devices that use lithium-ion batteries include:

  • Cordless tools.
  • Microscopes.
  • Laptops.
  • Computer mice.
  • Cellphones.
  • Wireless headsets.
  • Body temperature thermometers.
  • Mobility devices.

The dangers of lithium-ion batteries

The biggest problem is battery bulge. This occurs when the battery starts to degrade and releases gas, causing the wrap around the cells to balloon or swell. Battery bulge can be a serious fire hazard.

Since these batteries are usually enclosed in electronic devices, it can be difficult to identify the issue. The most common signs of battery bulge are:

  • A laptop keyboard develops a hump, or keys are hard to press.
  • The electronic device starts to change shape.
  • The device is unable to lay flat on a surface or may start to separate at the seams along the edges.

Other dangers of lithium-ion batteries include:

  • Dropping the battery, which can damage the cells within it.
  • Causing thermal runway, which is an uncontrollable chemical reaction within the battery when there is a sudden increase in temperature during the charging process. It causes an explosive fire.
  • Storing them at temperatures below 32 F or above 104 F for a long period of time, which can damage them.
  • Charging batteries in the presence of flammable liquids or gases, which can increase the risk of an explosive fire.

How to stay safe with lithium-ion batteries

While rechargeable lithium-ion batteries may make your life much more convenient, it’s not worth the convenience if they start a fire. CM Regent offers these tips for avoiding a battery-related fire:

  • Train employees on correct battery storage procedures and charging environments.
  • Designate a specific staff member to charge all batteries and hold them accountable if charging is not performed properly.
  • Remove lithium-ion batteries from chargers when charging cycle is complete.
  • Teach staff members how to identify battery bulge.
  • Avoid fast chargers, as they can contribute to thermal runway and potentially cause a fire.
  • Purchase lithium-ion batteries through a reputable vendor and keep close track of purchase orders. That way, if an item is recalled, you will have a quick and easy way of determining whether you need to remove batteries from some of your devices.
  • Only use batteries of the correct voltage recommended by the manufacturer.

Check out a previous blog for more information on guarding against battery fires.

CM Regent Solutions

CM Regent Solutions provides a variety of employee benefit products and third-party claims administration services. Our consultative approach ensures our services fit our customers' needs, including: Group Life Insurance, Disability, Dental, Vision and COBRA.

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