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Tags: e-bike

Rising battery fires prompt stark safety warning for e-bikes and scooters

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UK sees quadrupled rate of lithium battery fires

Trading Standards in the UK have issued a severe warning about the safety of e-bikes and e-scooters, especially as the festive season approaches.

This caution comes in light of a worrying increase in fires related to lithium-ion batteries used in these devices.

In the past three years, the UK has seen these fires quadruple, now occurring at a rate of at least six a week.

National figures are disturbing, with 190 people injured and 10 fatalities since 2020 due to these fires​​.

Safety measures and guidelines stressed by authorities

The Office for Product and Safety Standards (OPSS) recommends several critical steps for purchasing, using, and charging e-bikes and e-scooters.

These include buying from known sellers, following manufacturer instructions, using manufacturer-recommended batteries or chargers, charging safely, and not tampering with the battery​​.

Councillor Ron Shepherd, Portfolio Holder for Safer and Stronger Communities in North East Lincolnshire, emphasised the importance of adhering to safety guidelines.

He warned about the risks of charging these devices in homes and urged buyers to purchase from reputable dealers​​.

Identifying and responding to battery failures

Users are advised to immediately stop using or charging their battery if they notice signs of overheating, deformation, unusual noise, smell, poor performance, or smoke.

In case of fire or smoke, it is vital to raise the alarm, evacuate, and call emergency services.

Faulty chargers or batteries should also be reported to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service​​.

Charging and maintenance tips

Charging e-bikes and e-scooters safely involves avoiding bedrooms or blocked escape routes, not leaving batteries charging unattended, avoiding overloading sockets, and not charging near combustible materials.

Regular inspection of the devices for damage or signs of battery failure is also crucial​​.

Buying considerations and disposal of batteries

When purchasing these devices, it is important to buy only from reputable retailers and manufacturers, ensuring they comply with UK safety standards.

Disposing of lithium-ion batteries requires special care, as they should not be mixed with regular rubbish or recycling due to fire risks​​.

E-bike conversion kits and legal use

For those considering converting standard bicycles into e-bikes, professional installation is recommended.

Self-installation can lead to safety issues and may invalidate warranties.

Additionally, in the UK, only e-scooters participating in official rental trials are legal on roads.

Unauthorised use can lead to fines and other penalties​​.

IFSJ Comment

The increasing number of lithium battery fires linked to e-bikes and e-scooters is a significant concern for fire safety and public health.

These incidents highlight the critical need for heightened awareness and adherence to safety guidelines.

The UK’s proactive approach in issuing clear safety standards and recommendations is commendable.

This issue underscores the importance of responsible manufacturing and informed consumer behaviour in mitigating fire risks associated with emerging technologies.

As e-bikes and e-scooters gain popularity, their safe usage becomes paramount, necessitating ongoing public education and stringent safety regulations.

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