Statewide “Buy Safe, Charge Safe” Campaign Announced To Raise Awareness About the Dangers of Lithium-Ion Battery Fires
Complements the Governor’s State of the State Proposal to Ban the Sale of Unsafe Lithium-Ion Batteries Used in Micro-mobility Devices
February 1, 2024
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a statewide campaign to raise awareness about the safe use of consumer products that contain lithium-ion batteries, such as e-bikes, e-scooters, hoverboards, smart phones, laptops, toys and power tools. These consumer products have enhanced our lives in many ways; however, they pose serious safety risks if not used properly and with safety in mind. In New York City, there were over 250 fires, more than 130 injuries and at least 18 fatalities in 2023. More fires have occurred statewide, including in Greene, Herkimer, Orange, Jefferson and Suffolk counties, among others. Governor Hochul has also proposed a ban on the sale of uncertified or improperly certified lithium-ion batteries used in micro-mobility devices such as e-bikes and e-scooters.
“As our technology develops, sometimes at a blistering pace, it can make our lives easier and more enjoyable. It can also bring risks we’re not accustomed to, and our first line of defense is awareness,” Governor Hochul said. “This campaign effort launched by our best-equipped agencies will help New Yorkers to make educated, safe, smart choices with their purchases on how to best store and use them. I encourage everyone to take just a few minutes to heed these warnings to protect life and property—one life lost is one life too many.”
This multi-agency effort will educate consumers about how to properly purchase, use, charge and maintain devices with lithium-ion batteries, and the potential dangers of their improper use. The effort consists of several New York State agencies, including the Department of State, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Department of Motor Vehicles and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The Governor also included a proposal in her State of the State and Executive Budget to restrict the sale of lithium-ion batteries in micro-mobility devices unless the batteries have been certified by a nationally recognized testing and certification laboratory in accordance with specified safety standards.
The “Buy Safe, Charge Safe” public awareness campaign will run statewide beginning February 1, 2024. The campaign will include display, search and social media ads targeted to individuals purchasing or using consumer products that contain lithium-ion batteries. The ads will focus on what to look for when buying lithium-ion batteries, how to use them safely and how to dispose of them. The ads will also be paired with an educational video. Consumers who click on the ads or video will be directed to a website with more information about using lithium-ion batteries safely. The new one-stop website can be found at: ny.gov/chargesafe .
As part of this effort, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services created a Lithium-Ion Battery Consumer Safety Guide to give New Yorkers clear safety guidance. Understanding how to safely buy, use, charge, maintain, store and dispose of these items is critical to preventing lithium-ion battery fires. Additionally, understanding the warning signs of a potential fire and knowing how to respond helps reduce the risk of devastation and tragedies.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “Consumer products powered by lithium-ion batteries are being used more and more in our everyday lives, but many consumers are unaware of the potential dangers they pose when not handled properly. It’s critical for New York consumers to understand how to safely use, charge and store these products, and that’s why we’ve worked with our agency partners to develop clear user guidance and a consumer education campaign to help keep New Yorkers safe.”
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “Lithium-ion batteries power so many of the devices we use every day. Unfortunately, the improper use or charging of uncertified or secondhand versions of batteries, especially those found in micro mobility devices, can lead to tragic results. I encourage all New Yorkers to do their part in helping prevent lithium-ion fires by taking time to understand how to safely use these batteries and ensure their households are protected.”
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “Understanding how to safely charge and store an e-bike or micro-mobility device is just as important as riding safely and following the rules of the road. This campaign offers commonsense tips that are easy to follow and will hopefully help prevent another tragic fire. I encourage everyone to spend some time learning about all the ways you encounter lithium-ion batteries in your daily lives and how to keep yourself safe.”
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "Lithium-ion batteries power everyday consumer products used by millions of New Yorkers, underscoring the importance of raising awareness of potential dangers associated with this technology. Empowering the public with the knowledge and information they need to continue to handle or operate these products responsibly not only builds on the State's efforts to protect our communities from potential risks but will help guide us toward a future where innovation and safety harmonize for the well-being of all."
In addition to the public education campaign, the DHSES Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) has developed fire service guidance and related information for lithium-ion battery incidents which is available on its website here . Additionally, OFPC has developed a lithium-ion battery awareness course, with over 2850 course completions to date, including 450 online completions through the DHSES Learning Management System.
Lithium-Ion Battery Safety
Lithium-ion batteries power many products consumers use every day, and with proper use, pose minimal risk. However, if not handled properly, the lithium-ion battery within the product can become extremely overheated and start large fires that can be hard to control.
- Purchase products from reputable manufacturers and vendors: Products that are well-engineered and well-tested are safer products. Avoid the “low price, low quality” option that could put you or your family in danger.
- Look for a nationally recognized certification laboratory: Safety marks from nationally recognized certification laboratories, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL), mean a product has been certified to meet safety, quality or security standards. Look for safety marks on product packaging, the product itself or within product details when shopping online.
- Check for recalls before buying: Check to see if a product has been recalled by reviewing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) database at www.cpsc.gov/recalls .
- Follow manufacturers’ instructions: Always charge, store, and use your devices according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not disassemble or modify your device’s battery in any way. This significantly increases the risk of explosion.
- Only use the charger that came with your device: If you need to buy a new charger, make sure the replacement is approved by the device manufacturer. Don’t replace batteries and chargers with components unless they are specifically designed and approved for your device. Just because a charger fits in your device doesn’t mean it is safe to use.
- Never leave any lithium-ion powered devices unattended while charging: Unattended charging can increase the chance of overcharging. When overcharged, lithium-ion batteries may overheat, explode and catch fire. Always remove devices and batteries once they are fully charged.
- Pick a safe place to charge your device: Do not plug your micro-mobility devices into a power strip or overload an outlet. Do not charge large micro-mobility devices, like e-bikes and hoverboards, near doorways that could block your exit in an emergency. Avoid charging smaller devices—like smartphones and laptops—under pillows, on beds or on couches. Charge lithium-ion batteries in a flat, dry area away from children, direct sunlight, liquids and tripping hazards.
- Never throw away lithium-ion batteries in household trash or recycling bins: Call2Recycle organizes retail collection takeback programs and voluntary collection programs to safely dispose of lithium-ion batteries and the devices that use them. See Call2Recycle’s website for more information at https://www.call2recycle.org/ . For more information on how to properly manage batteries at end-of-life, see the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/72065.html , or at www.nyc.gov/batteries for NYC residents.
Warning Signs of a Lithium-Ion Battery Fire
- Device is hot: It is normal for batteries to generate some heat when they are charging or in use. However, if your device’s battery feels extremely hot to touch, it is likely defective and at risk to start a fire.
- Device is swelling or bulging: Look for any type of lump or leakage from the device as well.
- Device is making a hissing, cracking, or popping sound: Some failing lithium-ion batteries make hissing, cracking or popping sounds.
- Device has an odor: Pay attention to any strong or unusual odors coming from the battery. Lithium-ion batteries emit toxic fumes when they fail.
- Device is smoking: If your device is smoking, a fire may have already started. Get outside, stay outside and call 9-1-1.
If you notice any of these warning signs:
- Stop using the device and turn it off immediately.
- Unplug it from the power source.
- If safe to do so, move it away from anything flammable using tongs or gloves.
- Leave the area.
- Call 9-1-1.
What to do if your lithium-ion battery catches fire?
- Leave the area immediately then call 9-1-1. If you can’t get outside, call 9-1-1 and tell the fire department you can’t get outside.
- Do not try to put the fire out yourself. Lithium-ion battery fires spread quickly, aggressively, and can become explosive or reignite. Water may not prevent a battery from burning and fire extinguishers do not work on lithium-ion battery fires. The safest decision you can make is leave the area immediately and call 9-1-1.
For more information on fire safety, prevention, and response visit:
- NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Office of Fire Prevention and Control: www.dhses.ny.gov/office-fire-prevention-and-control
- NYS Division of Consumer Protection: www.dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection .
- NYS Division of Consumer Protection’s Fire Safety Brochure: www.dos.ny.gov/fire-safety-tips
- Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC): www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fire-SafetyInformation-Center
- The American Red Cross: www.redcross.org
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