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Taipei City Fire Department reminds to take safety measures for lithium batteries

According to statistics from Taipei City Fire Department, in the past five years (from 2019 to May 2024), lithium battery fires in Taipei City have been most commonly associated with lithium batteries used in electric vehicles and power banks. The primary causes in previous cases were overheating, overcharging, or using electrical appliances without safety labels. Therefore, implementing effective safety measures against lithium battery fires is essential to prevent future accidents.

In recent years, lithium batteries have become the mainstream power storage devices, widely used in mobile devices, consumer electronics, and electric vehicles due to their small size, high energy density, and low self-discharge rate. However, lithium's high chemical reactivity poses high risks. According to statistics from the Fire Department, there have been a total of 139 lithium battery fires in the past five years. Among these incidents, 82 cases (59%) occurred inside buildings, with power banks being the most frequent appliance at 27 cases. Additionally, 36 lithium battery fires (26.5%) involved electric vehicles, with electric bicycles accounted for 12 cases.

The Fire Department notes that lithium battery incidents typically arise from external factors like overcharging, impact, and structural damage, or internal issues such as electrolyte decomposition and internal pressure build-up. They have recently initiated the "FSI Fire Scene Investigation Classroom - Lesson Four: Lithium Battery Burning Reproduction Experiment," which simulates lithium battery overcharging to demonstrate early warning signs: swelling, heating, and smoking. Upon noticing these signs, users should cease using the battery, submerge it in water, and, once deemed safe, hand it over to recycling authorities for recycling.

To prevent lithium battery fires, the Fire Department emphasizes the importance of avoiding prolonged charging and using certified products. They recommend following the safety measures:

1. Choose products with the "Commodity Safety Mark" issued by the Bureau of Standards, Metrology, and Inspection, Ministry of Economic Affairs: Since May 2014, mandatory inspections by the Bureau of Standards, Metrology, and Inspection include various categories of 3C secondary lithium batteries and appliances. Compliance checks are crucial during purchases, especially for electric bicycles and Mini electric two-wheel vehicles as per the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' regulations.

2. Read the instruction manual carefully before use and follow its instructions: Handle batteries as per the product manual.

3. Avoid charging in direct sunlight, high temperatures, or near flammable materials: Store batteries in cool, dry places away from heat and moisture. Charge them in ventilated areas away from flammable materials, between 0 to 45°C.

4. Remove the power source promptly after charging to avoid overcharging, and avoid charging while sleeping: Avoid fully depleting batteries during use, as over-discharging can cause the negative electrode plates to collapse, reducing capacity and increasing impedance. This not only shortens the battery life irreversibly but also increases safety risks.

5. Avoid dropping, squeezing, or impacting mobile phones and power bank products: Handle batteries as per the product manual. Prevent impacts, drops, and squeezing to avoid damaging the internal structure and insulation.

6. Avoid metal objects contacting both ends of the battery when carrying it to prevent short circuits: Store spare batteries in protective cases to prevent short circuits

In an era where lithium battery are widely used, it's crucial for everyone to cultivate good usage habits to help create and maintain a safe environment collectively.