Lithium-ion battery safety

Lithium-ion batteries are the fastest growing fire risk in New South Wales. It is important for you to understand the risks and be prepared if things go wrong.

Things you need to know:

Prepare

  • Make sure a smoke alarm or heat alarm is working in rooms where batteries are charged or stored.
  • Charge batteries on hard surfaces that can't catch on fire like concrete floors or tiles. Don't charge them on surfaces like beds, sofas, or carpet.
  • Large batteries like the ones used in e-scooters, e-bikes, and power-tools, should only be charged in the garage, shed or carport, away from living spaces and exits.

When to charge

  • Do not charge batteries when sleeping or not at home.
  • Once the device has a full battery, disconnect it from the charger.
  • Never use and charge devices at the same time in bed. Devices like phones, tablets and vapes can overheat and catch fire when left on blankets, sheets, and clothing.
  • Don't use and charge batteries that are swelling or bulging, leaking, or overheating. Don't use and charge the device if it is cracked, dented, punctured, or crushed.

Charging

  • If the charger didn't come with the device or battery don't use it. Only use approved chargers to charge your battery.
  • Just because the plug fits, it doesn't mean it's compatible.
  • Only use chargers that show the Australian Regulatory Compliance Mark Tick.
  • Charging a device or battery with the wrong power output (voltage and current), can cause damage to the battery and overheat it which can cause a fire.

Disposal

Lithium-ion batteries can not be placed into home garbage or recycling bins. They can cause fires during waste collection, transportation, handling and processing.

Small, undamaged batteries (not swollen, punctured, or leaking, etc.) can be safely disposed of at a battery recycling drop off point. It is recommended that battery terminals are taped over with clear adhesive tape before placing the battery carefully (without dropping it) into a battery recycling collection bin.

Information on where and how to dispose of used batteries can be found from:

Learn more about how to safely dispose of batteries here.

Warning signs

Batteries that show any signs of damage should be disposed of carefully as they carry the risk of becoming involved in a fire.

Damaged batteries and battery-powered devices include:

  • Batteries that show signs of swelling or bulging, leaking, cracks, dents, punctures, or crushing
  • Overheated batteries that may have vapours or smoke
  • Batteries that have gotten wet or have been in water
  • Batteries that have been in or exposed to fire.

Next step

  • Never use or charge a damaged battery.
  • Never throw them in your regular home waste or recycling bins.
  • Never take damaged batteries to battery recycling collection points or sites.
  • Damaged batteries should be kept outside in a well-ventilated area. Store at least 3 metres from any structures and/or combustible materials.
  • Small batteries or devices can be placed in a plastic container of water to cool and prevent further ignitions.
  • Place leaking or damaged (but not overheated or off-gassing) batteries in a clear plastic bag or container and take them to a Community Recycling Centre [external link] or a Household Chemical CleanOut event [external link] for disposal.

Learn more here on what to do if you're device or battery is smoking or on fire.

Downloads and more information

Further information and related pages

Printable downloads

Printable battery and charging safety factsheets are available for downloading.

Campaign resources and downloads

A campaign toolkit has been developed to help you communicate with your local community about how to safely use and dispose of lithium-ion batteries. It contains assets and resources for you to download and share.

View the Lithium-ion battery safety campaign kit here.

Did you know?


The use of heaters, cigarettes and candles are common causes of fires.


When you're asleep, you won't smell the smoke from a fire.


You're twice as likely to die in a home fire if you don't have a working smoke alarm.

Fire and Rescue NSW responds to approximately
4500
residential fires each year.
Half of these fires start in the kitchen, mostly due to unattended cooking.


Electrical appliances and faults cause almost 40% of home fires.