From smartphones and power tools to e-bikes and electric toothbrushes, these batteries provide the power needed to keep us connected and productive. However the growing use of lithium-ion batteries in everyday objects has brought about an increased awareness of fire safety concerns.

A recent report from insurer Aviva sheds light on the alarming rise in fire incidents caused by these lithium-ion batteries. With a 7% increase in customer claims over the past year alone, it’s clear that the dangers posed by these power sources cannot be ignored. From house fires sparked by incompatible chargers to explosions caused by faulty devices, the consequences of mishandling lithium-ion batteries can be devastating.

One such incident involved Ian, 57, whose Bluetooth earbuds exploded while charging on his sofa. A simple mistake—using an incorrect charger—led to a terrifying ordeal as the headphones and battery case erupted in flames, melting into the furniture. Ian’s experience serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers lurking within our devices.

Despite the widespread use of lithium-ion batteries, awareness of the associated risks remains shockingly low. Aviva’s research reveals that a significant portion of the population is unaware of what lithium-ion batteries are and the fire hazards they pose. Moreover, many consumers lack knowledge about the warning signs of a failing battery, such as overheating or bulging.

The National Fire Protection Agency emphasises the importance of understanding these risks and taking simple measures to protect both ourselves and our homes:

  • only use manufacturer-approved batteries and chargers rather than cheap alternatives
  • charge batteries on flat, non-flammable surfaces and never in high temperatures or in direct sunlight.High temperatures can cause the battery to overheat and is a fire risk
  • don’t overcharge devices or leave them unattended when you’re charging them
  • disconnect the device once its fully charged
  • look for any signs of battery failure, for example the battery becoming very hot to touch or the sides starting to bulge. Inspect cables and connectors for signs of damage and wear. Replace any frayed or damaged components to prevent short-circuiting
  • if you own an electric bike, never charge the batteries in hallways, doors or blocking escape routes. If there is a fire, you will need to be able to escape safely
  • charge and store batteries in a fire-retardant box, which will offer some protection if the battery or device overheats and catches fire, containing the explosion and helping towards preventing serious fire damage
  • teach children how to use and charge lithium-ion batteries and devices safely. Supervision while using and charging devices can help prevent unsafe practices, alongside charging items outside of bedrooms

NFPA how to safely charge an e-bikeFollowing these rules can make a significant difference in preventing fires and protecting lives and property.

Check all the fire safety alarms like smoke alarms and heat alarms in  your home. Early warning systems can provide crucial alerts in the event of a fire, giving everybody in the building valuable time to evacuate safely.

BCOP agree that lithium-ion batteries have revolutionised the way we power our devices but we know they also present inherent risks. By raising awareness, providing education, and promoting responsible usage, we hope everybody can enjoy using new technologies while minimising the risk of harm.



Aviva issues warning about unsafe charging habits , January 2024

2024 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)  safety advice about lithium batteries.

NFPA Giving electronic gifts and safe charging tips