The Hidden Risks of Lithium Batteries in Your Mobile Phone
The current dry and hot summer weather in the UK can lead to many causes for concern with fire safety. Today we’re talking about lithium batteries, specifically lithium-ion batteries. These types of batteries have become an indispensable part of our everyday lives. They power many devices we can’t do without – from mobile phones and laptops to electric cars. Yet, despite how common they are, not everyone realises the potential dangers that these powerhouses pose.
When appropriately used, lithium batteries are completely safe. However, mishandling or misuse can turn them into fire hazards, literally. This risk amplifies when it comes to the mobile phones we carry everywhere, even in our pockets.
Firstly, let’s understand why lithium batteries are potentially dangerous. They store an impressive amount of energy in a very small space. This energy is released through a chemical reaction that can generate heat. While manufacturers design these batteries with numerous safety measures, including circuits to prevent overcharging and thermal runaway, damage to these safeguards can lead to uncontrollable heat generation.
Imagine your mobile phone’s lithium battery as a pressurised canister. If it gets punctured or damaged, it could ‘explode’ in the sense of suddenly releasing all the stored energy. Overheating is a common cause of such punctures. Direct exposure to sunlight, heavy usage, or being kept in a pocket close to your body heat can cause your mobile phone to overheat.
Devices left in cars under the scorching sun, or tucked into tight pockets during heavy usage, can lead to potential heating issues. The batteries aren’t able to dissipate the heat effectively, leading to a potential thermal runaway, where the heat generated exceeds the heat dissipated, causing a hazardous chain reaction and potentially a dangerous electrical fire.
So, what can you do to avoid these risks?
1. Keep your phone out of direct sunlight: The sun’s rays can quickly heat your phone, pushing its temperature to unsafe levels. Keep your phone in the shade or in a bag if you’re outside.
2. Keep your phone away from tight spaces: Keeping your phone in a tight pocket, particularly while running high-performance applications, can cause it to overheat. Make a habit of placing your phone on a flat, hard surface when using it intensively such as a solid worktop or a tile.
3. Use approved chargers: Always use an approved charger for your device. Cheap or knock-off chargers can lead to overcharging, which increases the risk of thermal runaway.
4. Be mindful of phone covers: Some phone covers can trap heat. If your phone frequently gets hot, it might be worth considering a change.
We’ve rounded up a handy infographic which is available to download:
In conclusion, it is important to remember that lithium batteries are indeed potent sources of power, but mishandled they can also pose a threat. Always respect your device’s power source, use it correctly, and it will serve you safely. So, the next time you put your mobile phone in your pocket, consider the advice shared here and stay safe.