Lithium Ion Battery Warning - Fire Risk

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Two days ago I took collection of a reputable e-cig kit and two lithium ion batteries for it.  I put one in the ecig kit, and today put the other one in my bag as I wasn't sure the battery in use would last.  I just didn't realise how bad the risks of fire with these batteries is.

When I got in, I was a bit tired and put my keys in my bag without even thinking of where the battery was.  I then placed the bag on my lovely expensive leather sofa.

You've guessed it, two hours later there were flames coming from my handbag (fabric).  Fortunately I had a full bucket of water next to the sofa so upended it on that (had been mopping the floor). It seems I can scream, never thought I'd do that in an emergency situation lol. 

Looking at the manufacturer of the batteries website (I bought them from a reputal retailer but not the manufacturer), they have very clear and explicit warnings that any contact between the battery and metal can cause explosions.  So this means batteries like this need to be kept apart from any metal, money, keys, keyrings anything else.  Batteries like this should be kept in a protective cover.  I now know these are available to purchase (protective covers for batteries).

I discovered my key chain was embedded in the battery, near the top, where the plastic coating on the battery ended and there was just the metal of the battery.  The contact between the two must have caused the fire.  

Probably others will say 'of course this is a huge risk, you should have been more careful/known' etc.  But I didn't understand that metal and these batteries in close proximity can cause explosions/fire.  I want to warn others.  Its an expensive mistake, besides the health risks that any fire causes. My sofa has a hole in it so needs to be replaced and my hand bag was a treat buy from a few months ago I can't replace.  But obviously the damage could have been a lot worse. So I am lucky in a way.

I, for one, will be treating batteries much much more carefully.


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Comments

  • Shirker_Bee
    Shirker_Bee Posts: 36 Forumite
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    I guess the moral of the story is smoking can damage your health - and your neighbours if your home had burned down! Glad to hear you got out the other side even if a little shaken. 
  • Mnoee
    Mnoee Posts: 822 Forumite
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    edited 21 June 2022 at 7:20AM
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    There were a lot of news stories about similar happening a few years ago - along with ecigs that people had altered to make them more powerful exploding. Those stories put me off switching from cigarettes to ecigs for ages (which I think was their intent), so when I did finally switch I was well versed on battery safety.

    The only other thing to look out for going forward is damaged batteries or the 'wraps' around them being damaged - there's nothing you can do if you dent or otherwise damage the actual battery, but damaged wraps can be re-wrapped for a fraction of the cost of new batteries. 

    I'm glad no one was hurt. 
  • MovingForwards
    MovingForwards Posts: 16,978 Forumite
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    Always have a battery box, whether it's an 18650, AA or other type of battery. It's a simple mistake and quite well known on dedicated forums.
    Mortgage started 2020, aiming to clear it in 2026.
  • pogofish
    pogofish Posts: 10,852 Forumite
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    edited 21 June 2022 at 12:52PM
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    Also, keep your device in a way where the button can't be accidentally pressed and/or religiously use the lock feature that virtually all e-cigs have these days.  Usually half a dozen quick presses of the button.

    And with any new device/battery.  Ensure your charger is compatible and watch the first few charges like a hawk.  IME problem batteries tend to show-up fairly quickly.
  • deannagone
    deannagone Posts: 1,060 Forumite
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    edited 23 June 2022 at 6:08PM
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    Due to my belated research, I now understand some batteries have a protective wrap, some are known as unprotected and obviously there's no protective wrap (they are cheaper and supposed to be more efficient discharging electricity to the ecig mod).  It did look on the surface like it had a protective wrap but it was just a plastic film, completely useless if the battery came into contact with metal as mine did.  Obviously this was an unprotected battery, the existence of which I was unaware of.  But I could have been with more research.

    The kit I purchased originally was supposed to have overcharging safeties which gave me a false sense of security.., but of course it was the loose battery that ignited.

    I have purchased another ecig kit with an internal battery but you have to make sure its turned off when not being used.  

    I do feel that while I have some culperability for what happened, (I could have been more knowledgeable about ecig batteries), but there wasn't an explicit 'this can be dangerous' message except on the battery manufacturers website.  I was a bit gobsmacked when I saw the warnings after the incident.  If I had seen something like that, I would have understood the dangers of having metal items near an unprotected battery.  I think this kind of incident is rare, I have googled the battery/ecig kit brand and "fire" and found no other incidents recorded.  I could have been using the wrong search terms of course.  But it only has to happen once.  Thank goodness I didn't take the dogs out for a walk, leaving the ecig kit in my bag on the sofa.  Or I could have been wearing my bag and it exploded as it ignited (I was in the garden at the time so don't know how violent the ignition was - the manufacturers website does mention the word explosion a few times lol).

    The company I bought it off have taken the comments I have made seriously, and may offer a contribution to the sofa replacement cost. We'll see what happens but their reaction so far has actually impressed me.  I may have shot myself in the foot as I had no intention of asking for compensation, not totally sure of the legal implications and legally how culperable I am as I do know legally, ignorance is no defence!
  • MovingForwards
    MovingForwards Posts: 16,978 Forumite
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    Battery wraps are heat shrunk plastic, I've rewrapped mine before. If there's a small rip, or even if the top / bottom catches a coin it's enough for a discharge.

    Maybe it's just the sites / shops I use, but I've never seen one not displaying warning signs and including a warning in the parcel. I've also never seen a vape site selling unwrapped batteries either.  

    Switch your ecig off and remove the tank / pod section, assuming it can be removed, before going to bed, keep it out the way of windows / heat too.

    When any item, with a removable battery, isn't used for a bit it's recommended to take it out. Over the years I've replaced walkmen, tens machine, remote control and other every day household things.  I've left batteries in, gone to use the item and it didn't work, went to replace the batteries and there's dried white gunk everywhere. 

    Warning signs are included on regular battery packets too and have been for years. There's also warnings when flying with battery operated items.
    Mortgage started 2020, aiming to clear it in 2026.
  • mattyprice4004
    mattyprice4004 Posts: 7,492 Forumite
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    If you get anything in compensation I’d be surprised - electricity 101 is ‘when you short circuit things, bad things happen’. 

    All batteries need to be protected from this - I was told from a young age not to leave any batteries lying around in proximity to metal objects where contact could be made. 
    I appreciate not everyone will have been told this, though! 
    At least you’re taking a pragmatic view - I bet there’s people out there that would try and pin blame on the company, so kudos for that. :) 

  • MattMattMattUK
    MattMattMattUK Posts: 8,761 Forumite
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    Did you know that if you short and/or damage something that is known to catch fire when shorted and/or damaged, it may catch fire?
  • deannagone
    deannagone Posts: 1,060 Forumite
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    edited 25 June 2022 at 12:30PM
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    It didn't occur to me that this battery COULD short.  I now that was wrong and will be a lot more careful with any battery in future, but I didn't before this happened to me.  You can tell me I'm stupid etc but you are not me lol.  I just didn't know.

    I'm afraid when I went to school, females couldn't do physics just because they were female (this was 1976 - just before things changed - sorry but its true).  I can mess with my pc and build them, but I still have no real idea of how electronics work, its just a case of selecting the components according to advice online and installing them. I do DIY (have installed kitchens) but have always got someone in to deal with the electrics.  

    And up until now, nothing like this has happened to me that showed my lack of knowledge was dangerous.  I have read warnings on items I have purchased but don't remember anything saying don't keep batteries unprotected, and don't put them near metals. Am I blind, I don't know?  I just haven't seen this kind of thing before.  
  • unforeseen
    unforeseen Posts: 7,295 Forumite
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    edited 25 June 2022 at 12:30PM
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    The battery didn't short, the metal items in your bag shorted it. 
    This is why airlines ban the carriage of lithium batteries in luggage. Its fine while in the equipment but open to getting shorted out when loose in somebody's case

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