What should I do if my battery is smoking or on fire?

If on fire

If the device or battery starts to smoke or emit flames:

  • Evacuate the area and close doors if safe to do so to slow the spread of fire ensuring no one goes back inside the building for any reason. The vented battery gases, vapour and smoke are highly toxic and flammable and must not be inhaled.
  • Call Triple Zero (000) and wait in a safe location for firefighters to arrive.
  • If anyone has been exposed to spilled electrolyte, flying debris, smoke or vapours, or flames, seek urgent medical assistance. Burns should be immediately treated with cool running water for 20 minutes. Burns larger than a 20-cent piece require emergency care. Treat with cool running water immediately, call Triple Zero (000), and follow the advice of the operator.

Warning signs

Thermal runaway events involving lithium-ion batteries can occur rapidly and can often be quite violent, involving toxic smoke and vapours, flames, and metal projectiles.

Warning signs to look out for in a device or battery include:

  • Pungent odours
  • Discolouration, blistering, bulging, or swelling of the casing
  • Leaking electrolyte
  • Heating up and feeling extremely hot to touch
  • Abnormal popping, hissing or crackling sounds, smoke and fumes

Never touch a swollen or ruptured device or battery with bare hands as the heat and/or chemicals can cause severe burns.

If overheating

We don’t recommend handling anything that is on fire. Only attempt the following if safe to do so without injuring yourself and putting others in danger.

If a small battery or device such as a phone or tablet starts overheating:

  • Unplug it from the power outlet if it is on charge.
  • Avoid inhaling any smoke or fumes.
  • If possible, remove it to an outside area away from any combustible material and away from windows or doorways.
  • Small devices can be dropped into a bucket of clean water to cool if this can be done safely.
  • Small flames can be doused with a bucket of water or a garden hose to stop the fire spreading to nearby objects. Make sure the device is not plugged in to mains power or near other powered equipment when applying water.
  • If trained to use a nearby fire blanket or a fire extinguisher (dry chemical powder or carbon dioxide), only attempt to use them from a safe distance away from any smoke or vapours. These may be used to prevent the spread of fire to the surroundings but are not likely to fully extinguish a lithium-ion battery fire.
  • Call Triple Zero (000) even if you no longer see visible smoke or flames. There is a good chance that the battery might reignite if it has not been sufficiently cooled.

Electric vehicles and battery energy storage systems

Learn about incidents involving electric vehicles here

Learn about battery energy storage systems here