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Tips for minimizing the fire risk of lithium ion batteries

More than a half-million hoverboards were recalled last

More than a half-million hoverboards were recalled last summer. Credit: Dreamstime

With kids getting toys and electronics for the holidays that are powered by lithium ion batteries, can you provide some tips on how to care for them to minimize a fire risk?

“There are lithium ion batteries in so many devices we use today, including children’s toys. They are by and large safe,” says Susan McKelvey, who grew up in Port Jefferson and is now a communication manager for the National Fire Protection Association, which is based in the Boston area.

However, there are concerns that some defective lithium ion batteries may overheat, catch fire or explode. For instance, due to some incidents, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled more than a half-million hoverboards made by 10 companies this past summer, and the Federal Aviation Agency banned Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices from all flights this fall.

“They are fairly isolated incidents,” McKelvey says. “We like to balance caution and safety with not overreacting. A little added awareness and some basic safety precautions go a long way.”

The NFPA has developed a safety tip list for using these batteries that store a large amount of energy in a small amount of space. They include:

-Put batteries in the device right away, put them in correctly according to manufacturer instructions and store them away from anything that can catch fire.

-Never charge a device on a bed or a couch or under a pillow.

-Stop using the battery if you notice odor, a change in color, too much heat, leaking, odd noises or a change in shape.

-Don’t put lithium ion batteries in the trash. Take them to a battery recycling location or contact your community for disposal options.

For more information about fire prevention, visit

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