Fires involving lithium batteries are one of the fastest growing fire risks in Surrey. Since the start of 2023 we have attended over 30 fires caused by lithium batteries.
E-bikes and e-scooters are a great way to get around quickly and cheaply, but if the batteries become damaged, begin to fail or are over charged, they can start very fierce fires. If the batteries fail, they can cause rapidly developing fires of a much higher intensity than normal due to the large amount of energy they store and the flammable gases produced when they fail.
Fires involving lithium batteries spread incredibly quickly, and produce toxic fumes. Battery powered scooters are more prone to damage as the batteries are underneath the footplate and so are subject to more damage.
Please keep your home and family safe from fires involving lithium battery fires by following our advice here, it really could save a life.
Lithium battery safety
- Always source your e-bike or e-scooter from a reputable retailer and be wary of 'cheaper' offerings from the global market place.
- Don't charge or store your lithium batteries or e-bikes and e-scooters in corridors, or on an exit route. If a fire breaks out your escape will be blocked.
- Protect your batteries from extreme temperatures, both high and low.
- Try to avoid buying conversion kits, but if you do, get a professional to do the conversion for you.
- Store them in a shed or garage where possible.
- Regularly check your batteries for any damage or wear and tear.
- Never leave your batteries to charge when you are out or when you are asleep.
- Make sure both your battery and battery charger meet UK safety standards.
- If purchasing additional batteries or chargers, make sure they are compatible with your device and are intended to work with it. Always purchase from the reputable retailer that you made the original purchase from.
- Let your battery cool from use before charging.
- Unplug your battery and charger once the battery has charged, don't leave it to over-charge.
- Fit smoke alarms in the areas where you charge your batteries.
- Test your smoke alarms regularly.
The warning signs of a lithium battery fire
If your battery shows any signs of these signs of failure, immediately turn off the device, unplug it from the power source and remove it from your home. Ideally you should try to store your lithium batteries and e-bikes and e-scooters in a garage or shed.
Contact the manufacturer or retailer where you purchased it from for further instructions. If the device starts smoking or shows any sign of fire, raise the alarm, get out, stay out and call 999 immediately.
You can report faulty batteries, chargers or units to your local Trading Standards Office (GOV.UK).
- Bulging: Bulging out of shape, lumps or swelling of a battery is a common sign of the battery failing. Stop using it immediately.
- Heat: It is normal for every battery to emit heat when charging or in use, however if a battery is very hot to the touch there's a chance it is defective and could start a fire.
- Smell: If you notice a strong, strange or hot smell coming from your battery this could be a sign of failure.
- Function: Batteries not fully charging, taking a very long time to charge or batteries being used up faster than normal can be a sign that your battery is failing.
- Noise: Some failing lithium batteies have been reported to make hissing or cracking sounds.
How to dispose of lithium batteries
Do not place lithium batteries in your regular bin or recycling bin as they could become damaged and cause a fire. This can put people at risk. A fire in a bin or recycling lorry is extremely difficult to extinguish and can cause significant damage.
Check your local authority's website for information on how to safely dispose of lithium batteries in your area.