A timely reminder to be aware that you need to apply caution to leaving devices unattended while they are charging. Fortunately for a Nelligen home the owner returned today in time to alert the fire brigade to a fire that is believed to have been started from an unattended set of charging units. Battery technology is evolving at a rapid pace and as such is creating batteries that hold more power than ever before. This means they generate more heat while charging because they are "squeezing" a large amount of energy into a smaller space. A word of warning about leaving lithium batteries on charge when you go out, or even overnight. They can explode or burst into flame. Lithium batteries are compact, lightweight batteries that hold considerable charge and fare well under constant discharge-recharge conditions. The batteries are found everywhere -- in laptop computers, cameras, cell phones, and electric cars. Although accidents are rare, those that do occur may be spectacular, resulting in an explosion or fire. In February this year Jonathan Poyner shared a first hand account with Beagle readers of a very scary incident involving a bike torch: "I was sitting here looking at what's on Narooma Buy Swap Sell. Next to me was my daughters bike torch, on charge, when it burst into flames, sending a powerful 1m flame like a rocket across the room.Within seconds the house was full of toxic smoke from the li-ion battery and burning plastic."
Above: Photos by Jonathan Poyner
The smaller our batteries get and the quicker we want them to charge and the longer we want them to last and hold their charge. This has seen a spate of fires around the world associated with one particular brand of phone however the fire potential is universal with all devices if they are left unattended and they overheat. Some might remember the fire prone batteries of hoverboards. The greatest risk from charger-caused fires comes from users leaving their devices on charge for long periods of time, and covering them with clothing. If the heat can't dissipate goes into the surrounding material. If that is flammable like cotton up it goes. There have been many stories of phones catching fire while being charged and covered by a pillow while the owner sleeps. If you have a unit charging then charge it and take it off the charge - a device should not be left plugged in and charging without the opportunity to cool down. Some devices have been known to melt and become blobs of molten plastic. Most devices are only designed to be plugged in eight hours at a time.