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Using lithium-ion batteries safely

As we surf the net on our phones we should be wary that the power source of these devices are lithium-ion batteries.

By Trust and Safety 4 August 2023

As we surf the net on our smartphones daily and zoom around on electric scooters, we should be mindful that the power source of these devices are usually lithium-ion batteries and that these items should be carefully managed when charging them. 

If not used correctly, these batteries can be a fire hazard. 

Fire and Emergency New Zealand reports that:

Lithium ion batteries supply power to many kinds of devices, including smart phones, laptops, e-bikes, scooters, e-cigarettes, smoke alarms, toys, and even cars. Like any product, a small number of these batteries can be defective – they can overheat, catch fire or explode.

When you're buying something with a lithium-ion battery, there are important things to think about. 

  • Do your research. Only purchase and use devices and equipment from reputable manufacturers and suppliers.

  • Only use chargers that are supplied with the device, or certified third-party charging equipment that is compatible with the battery specifications. Using chargers with incorrect power delivery (voltage and current) can cause damage to the battery, including overheating, that can lead to fires.
  • Avoid leaving batteries or devices charging for prolonged periods of time. Once the indicator shows that a device or battery has been fully charged, disconnect it from the charger. This includes leaving batteries or devices charging unattended overnight

WorkSafe also has some guidance for using and charging batteries:

  • Always use the correct battery for the appliance – check the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Always use the correct charger – matched for the battery under charge.

  • Always charge batteries and appliances with rechargeable batteries (including phones and laptops) in a safe place – not on or near combustible products (eg like under the duvet where the heat cannot escape) and monitor the charging process.

  • Mechanical damage to batteries can cause them to fail – don’t use damaged batteries or batteries that have been exposed to mechanical shock (dropped).

  • Never charge a phone on the bedside cabinet while you sleep.

Safe disposal of lithium batteries

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and devices containing these batteries should not go in household garbage or recycling bins. Do not leave discarded batteries in piles.

They can cause fires during transport in rubbish collection trucks or at landfills and recyclers. Instead, Li-ion batteries should be taken to separate recycling or household hazardous waste collection points. Consumer NZ has a regional list of battery recyclers. 

If your lithium-ion battery has become ‘swollen’, this indicates that there is damage to the battery and it could be a possible fire hazard. It should not be used again and should be safely disposed of.


Trust and Safety
Trust and Safety