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smoke coming out of a black laptop from lithium battery malfunction

NBC and other news sources are reporting increased incidents of lithium battery explosions and fires.  This time on airplanes while in flight.

Recently, there have been two separate reports of these batteries exploding and catching fire while on airplanes during flight.  These incidents expose risks to the public due to the widespread use of products which hold these dangerous batteries.   Most of our devices use these batteries.  Cell phones, laptops, other electronics, and their portable chargers, all have these batteries – all widely used during air travel.  Airlines and the FAA have prohibited placing these batteries in checked luggage as there is no way to access a checked bag to extinguish a fire while in flight.   Airport authorities are putting up warnings all over airports.  But, travelers certainly may forget items in checked bags or may not be aware of the danger.

There have been other incidents of these batteries catching fire in homes and vehicles and causing catastrophic damage, devastating families.  Others have exploded in vape pens while in the pockets of innocent consumers, causing severe injuries.

Most of these batteries are manufactured in China. Both American and foreign companies are selling lithium batteries in products all across the United States.

What can we do? First, make sure to place electronics with these batteries in carry-on bags while traveling.  If a fire breaks out, it is much more accessible to get the flames extinguished.  Also, monitor the products and check for overheating, watch for increased warmth on electronics.

What manufacturers, retailers and sellers can do?  Use zinc and air batteries as there is a much lower fire risk. Also, research, market and sell alternative designs including batteries with a protective fireproof coating or container.

Everyone must be aware of the risk and be vigilant to protect the general public from risks these batteries pose.

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