Burn Injury Lawyers Warn About Dangers of Lithium-Ion Battery Fires from E-bikes and Other Electronic Devices

As lithium-ion battery fires break out at a rapid pace, U.S. fire departments struggle to keep up with the resources and training needed to fight them.

When a lithium-ion battery fails, it can burst into flames and cause significant property damage, severe injuries, and even death.

Lithium-ion batteries are the most popular type of rechargeable batteries because they charge faster, last longer, and are more powerful than traditional battery technology. Lithium-ion batteries are found in everyday products, including the following:

  • E-bikes, e-scooters, and other micro-mobility devices (hoverboards, e-unicycles, e-skateboards)
  • Fitness trackers and smartwatches such as Fitbits
  • Electronics such as cell phones tablets, and laptops
  • Electric vehicles
  • Cordless appliances and power tools
  • Heated apparel
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • Handheld gaming devices
  • Digital cameras

When the batteries that power these products fail or overheat, they can explode and catch fire. Fires from lithium-ion batteries are powerful, fast-spreading, and resistant to traditional firefighting techniques.

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Compliance With Safety Standards Can Help Prevent Fatal Fires

Between January 1, 2021, and November 28, 2022, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) received 208 reports of lithium-ion battery fires from micro-mobility devices. Nine percent of these fires resulted in deaths. In response to the rising number of lithium-ion battery fires, the CPSC wrote a warning letter to 2,000 manufacturers and importers of micro-mobility devices. The letter urges companies to comply with established safety standards or risk strict penalties.

Safety standards for battery-powered micro-mobility devices were established by UL Enterprises, a global safety science company that tests and certifies products. The CPSC says compliance with safety standards UL 2272 and UL 2849 “significantly reduces the risk of injuries and deaths from micro-mobility device fires.”

Proposed Legislation to Curb Lithium-Ion Battery Fires in New York

There have been 24 lithium-ion battery fires in New York, almost as many as there were in total last year. As the New York Fire Marshal told The New York Times, “It seems like the number is doubling year by year.”

To combat the problem, the Mayor of New York City set up an interagency task force and the NYC City Council is considering several bills to reduce the risk of lithium-ion battery fires. Last year, the NYC Housing Authority proposed a ban on storing electric bicycles in public housing buildings but faced opposition from delivery workers who depend on e-bikes to do their jobs.

The New York Fire Department recommends the following safety tips for using products powered by lithium-ion batteries:

  • Purchase devices that are certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory UL
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storing your device
  • Always use the proper battery, cord, and power adaptor
  • Always plug the charger directly into a wall electrical outlet and beware of overloading outlets
  • Keep batteries and devices at room temperature
  • Keep devices away from heat sources
  • Always bring batteries to NYC Battery Recycling Centers to dispose of them
  • Never overcharge or leave a battery charging overnight
  • Never leave devices unattended while charging
  • Never store a device in a place that blocks your exit from a room

2023 Lithium-Ion Battery Fires

  • A fire at an NYC e-bike shop that spread to upper-floor apartments killed four people and injured several others.
  • An e-bike battery fire at a daycare center in Queens, NY, injured 18 children.
  • One woman suffered critical injuries in a Brooklyn apartment fire caused by 50 lithium-ion batteries found in e-bikes and e-scooters in the building.
  • A lithium-ion battery fire in the cabin of a United Airlines flight from New Jersey to San Diego injured seven people.
  • Three people were sent to the hospital after an electric bike battery sparked a fire at an apartment building in Inwood, Manhattan.

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Pritzker Hageman has a team of attorneys dedicated to helping burn survivors and their families get justice and compensation for their injuries. Every day you hesitate to contact us could detract from the task of gathering evidence. For you and your family, our explosion and burn team cares about building you the best possible case while holding wrongdoers accountable.

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