Electric Bike Batteries Pose Fire and Safety Hazards

E-bikes and scooters are widely seen as a mode of personal transportation with many benefits, a more affordable and environmentally “greener” way to reduce urban traffic. But with the growing popularity, we are seeing an increase in the number of accidental fires across the country.

Under certain conditions, the rechargeable and lithium-ion batteries that power e-bikes and scooters can pose a fire hazard. Fires that do occur are usually due to improper charging, physical damage, or manufacturing defects. Most batteries give between 20 and 60 miles per charge and they can be fully charged in two to four hours. The danger is that some owners simply leave the batteries on the charger long after they are fully charged. And even more dangerous are batteries that are charged and stored inside apartments or houses near doors or exits, effectively blocking the way out in the event of a fire.

Rechargeable and lithium-ion batteries store a large amount of energy and pose a threat if not used properly. They can overheat, catch fire or even explode.

Here’s how to stay safe:

• Only buy e-bikes and scooters listed by a qualified testing laboratory. You may be familiar with the UL symbol, which you can find on thousands of products.

• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storage.

• Always use the manufacturer’s power cord and adapter specifically designed for the bicycle or scooter.

• Store batteries away from flammable objects. And don’t charge them near doors or exits. In the event of a fire, you must be able to escape.

• When the batteries are fully charged, remove them from the charger. Be sure to do this if you plan to be away from home – don’t leave the batteries and charger plugged in while you’re away.

• Finally, if a battery overheats or you notice an odor, change in shape or color, leaking, or strange noises, stop using it immediately.

West Metro Fire Rescue has an electric bike that our teams use during backcountry rescues to quickly get a firefighter to a patient who may be several miles away on a trail. The bike was a great tool. But, before putting it to work, we trained firefighters on proper storage and use.

If you have an e-bike or scooter, the least you can do is check the user manual and follow the recommendations. Spending just a little time can keep your home and family safe.

For more information on home security, visit westmetrofire.org.

Ronda Scholting is the Public Information Officer for West Metro Fire Rescue.