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Lithium-ion battery safety

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

ALERT: Incorrectly charging your E-bike can cause violent fire. Do not attempt to extinguish.Evacuate immediately and call 111.

These days, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are everywhere, from e-bikes and e-scooters to vapes and power tools. They are light, compact, and long-lasting, but can be a fire hazard if they are damaged, mishandled, or improperly disposed of.

  • Do your research. Only purchase and use devices and equipment from reputable manufacturers and suppliers.

  • Only use chargers and batteries supplied with the device, or certified third-party charging equipment compatible with the battery specifications (same voltage and current).

  • Always charge e-scooters and e-bikes away from exits to ensure you can safely escape in the event of a fire. Where possible these should be stored and charged outside or in a garage, shed or carport, away from living spaces.

  • For smaller devices, such as vapes, phones, and laptops, do not charge these under a pillow, on the bed or on a couch — they can overheat and cause a fire.

  • Do not overcharge your batteries. When your item is fully charged, disconnect it from the charger.

  • Never store or leave batteries or devices in areas where they can be exposed to heat or moisture. Do not leave devices in direct sunlight or in parked vehicles where they can quickly heat up.

  • Only get device repairs and battery replacements done by a qualified professional.

If a device or battery starts to smoke or emit flames.

  • Evacuate immediately and close doors (if safe) to slow the spread of fire.

  • Once in a safe location, call 111 and wait for firefighters to arrive.

  • Ensure no one goes back inside the building for any reason. Battery gases, vapour and smoke are highly toxic and flammable and must not be inhaled.

    If anyone has been exposed to battery fluids, debris, smoke, vapours, or flames, seek urgent medical assistance

If a small battery or device such as a vape or phone starts overheating

  • Unplug it from the power outlet if it is charging.

  • If possible, move it outside, away from any flammable material and windows or doorways.

  • Small devices can be dropped into a bucket of water if this can be done safely.

  • If your device starts to smoke or release fumes, evacuate immediately to a safe location and call 111.

Battery disposal

  • Do not put lithium-ion batteries in the rubbish.

  • Recycling is always the best option — contact your local council for a recycling location.

  • Do not leave discarded batteries in piles.


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