The use of lithium batteries, although there are many different types, depending on whether they’re being used in a smartphone or vehicle, has soared in recent years as government regulators have urged environmentalists and scientists to identify more sustainable forms of electricity. The uptick in the use of these battery-powered products has made an impact in more ways than one, though. They’ve brought along with them potential fire and burn risks. Continue reading, where we’ll discuss the dangers of lithium-ion battery fires, along with their causes and consequences.
What Causes These Batteries To Ignite?
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), lithium-ion batteries have the capacity to store a significant amount of electricity or energy within a small amount of space.
Certain factors, such as physical damage to the battery or water exposure, as well as overcharging the device itself or using it to power items it’s not equipped to, can lead to an uncontrollable release of energy and heat generation. These processes can cause the battery’s internal mechanisms to turn into gases that are both toxic and highly flammable, which ignites fires.
How Consumers Can Reduce Chances of LIthium-Ion Battery Fires Occurring
There are measures we can all take to minimize the chances of these batteries overheating and causing a fire, as hinted at above, including:
- Being careful when selecting a battery (to make sure it’s appropriate for the specific product you’re looking to power)
- Pulling the lithium-ion-powered device off the charger when its battery is full (not overcharging it)
- Not discontinuing the use of such a battery-powered device if it appears damaged or defective in any way (swollen, makes noise, feels warm to the touch, etc.
- Not disposing of them in trash or recycling cans, but instead taking them to locations that specifically handle hazardous waste recycling
- Keeping these batteries out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
- Charging electric-powered bikes, scooters, and cars outdoors, away from any structures (including houses or standalone garages)
Common Consequences Associated With Lithium-Powered Device Fires
Lithium-battery fires pose many potential health or fatality risks, including the following:
One of the most notable concerns that probably comes to mind when you hear about a lithium-ion battery catching fire is burn injuries, especially those commonly associated with a person’s exposure to an open flame. While the potential for you to sustain full and partial-thickness burns from lithium-ion battery use is certainly a concern, so too is the potential for someone to suffer a contact or chemical burn. In terms of the latter, chemicals can easily permeate the skin’s tissues, leading to scarring and disfigurement, vision loss, skin discoloration and perforations (holes), cancer, and even death.
Another fire-related concern often associated with these batteries is what happens when the lithium salt electrolyte that it’s formulated enters the air victims breathe in the immediate aftermath of an explosion. It may not only irritate a person’s nose and throat or skin and eyes, but extended exposure to it can lead to its accumulation in an individual’s lungs, leading to a potentially fatal pulmonary edema. This substance can also adversely impact heart, thyroid, and kidney function and also lead to muscle control and coordination issues, headaches, and cognitive function issues like confusion, seizures, and comas.
A third issue outside of burns and smoke inhalation that lithium-ion batteries can cause is explosion impact-related injuries. What we mean by this is that the force with which these battery products often explode when their temperature and thus gases heat up often results in an impactful “release” of energy followed by a fire. This buildup of pressure that’s released can cause a person to lose their teeth or hand injuries (if they were holding it when the explosion occurred).
Infections and Nerve Damage
Also, as you might have guessed, the explosion that precedes or occurs simultaneously to the lithium battery fire can cause the small metal particles that the batteries are formulated with to become dislodged in your body, putting you at risk of infection. While thorough cleaning of your wound by medical professionals or surgical intervention may resolve such issues, damage done may be so significant that the patient’s nerves are impacted, resulting in functional impairments. Additionally, damage to or infection among the tissue may be so significant that an amputation may be a person’s best hope of survival.
Mental Health Concerns
The mental health impact of a lithium-ion battery fire shouldn’t be ignored either. Many victims of these fires not only suffer physical injuries but end up receiving anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnoses as well.
Getting Help if a Lithium-Ion Battery Caused You Harm
Our attorneys at Paynter Law have become well-known for our advocacy on behalf of those who’ve suffered harm when using lithium-ion battery products. Our expertise on how these batteries function and the harm they pose is unparalleled. So, too, is our knowledge about the negligent actions designers, manufacturers, advertisers, retailers, and others along the supply chain take that put consumers’ safety and, consequently, lives in peril.
Each member of our legal team is committed to investigating lithium battery fires and not stopping until we’re convinced that we’ve held every potentially liable party accountable for their role in harming our clients. If you’re looking for a zealous advocate to stand up for you after a lithium-ion battery hurt you, contact our law firm to speak with a products liability lawyer who regularly handles cases like yours. We’ll discuss your accident, the injuries you suffered or how your loved one died, and the legal options available to you in your case. This is a no-risk, no-cost consultation. So, contact our law office for a meeting now.