OLD BETHPAGE, N.Y. (PIX11) — Lithium-ion batteries are to blame for dozens of recent fires in New York City and Long Island. On Tuesday, Nassau County fire officials shared lifesaving tips to prevent disaster from happening in residents’ homes.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman was joined by the fire officials at the Fire Service Academy in Old Bethpage.
“Lithium batteries are in so many household devices and it’s very, very important how you use them and how you dispose of them,” Blakeman said.
The batteries are in cordless power tools and vacuums, laptops, tablets, cell phones, toys, hoverboards, electric bikes and scooters.
Michael Uttaro, the Nassau County Chief Fire Marshal, said the batteries themselves aren’t dangerous. They just need to be handled correctly.
“These batteries are not unsafe when properly charged, when using the proper charging equipment, when charging them on the proper place such as on a countertop versus on someone’s bed,” Uttaro said.
John Murray, the chief instructor at the Nassau County Firefighters Museum & Education Center, said to unplug your devices once they are charged.
“Problems come in when you charge these things overnight and you forget about them,” Murray said. “That’s what causes problems. It starts to distress the battery, overheats it, and as the phone or the toy gets older, it can happen easier.”
Officials advise consumers to:
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions in their entirety for use, charging and storage of the device
- Only use the charger that’s meant for the device, not third-party products.
- Avoid charging on a combustible surface like wood or bedding
- Do not charge in an exit way of a room or building
- If possible, charge e-bikes/scooters outside
So far this year across New York City, the FDNY has seen more than 80 fires caused by lithium-ion batteries from electric bikes and scooters, which have led to two deaths and more than 20 injuries. Last year, four New Yorkers were killed in fires caused by the batteries.
Because of how hard it is to put out these types of fires, officials warn to not attempt to put them out. Instead, get out of your home as soon as possible and call 911.
It’s also illegal to throw out these batteries in the trash, so officials recommend contacting your local town for drop-off sites.