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2016 News and Information

Improper storage of tea light battery causes fire

08 November 2016

As the days become darker, and the holiday season fast approaches, people are utilizing their lithium-ion battery operated tea lights as a safe and reliable alternative to candles. However, Richmond Fire Rescue warns that the batteries can pose a fire hazard if improperly stored.

Recently a fire occurred in Richmond due to the improper storage of the lithium-ion batteries, which are used to operate these artificial candles. The batteries, shaped like dimes, require specific storage and recycling methods to ensure they do not short circuit, overheat and cause a fire.

“Thermal runaway events have contributed to a number of large-scale fires in facilities which contained stored lithium batteries,” explains Community Relations Officer Brian MacLeod. “These fires are particularly high-impact as they involve large volumes of batteries stored in configurations which encourage fire spread.”

Thermal runaway is a technical term for a rapid uncontrolled increase in temperature. In lithium-ion cells, thermal runaway can be triggered by internal short circuits, physical damage, or overheating of the cell. The result of a thermal runaway in a lithium-ion cell is typically a fire or explosion.

Richmond Fire-Rescue would like to warn residents of the potential hazards due to improper storage and disposal of these lithium-ion dime shaped batteries.

  •  Never store batteries with exposed positive or negative leads
  • Before disposal always cover the battery in plastic tape to avoid possible short circuits
  • Always recycle batteries properly, do not throw them in the garbage
  • Keep all batteries out of the reach of children, swallowing a battery could be fatal

Residents are encouraged to read all safety warnings included in battery operated devices concerning proper use, storage and disposal.