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E-bike and e-scooter batteries can catch fire, association warns

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As electric bikes and scooters grow more popular, the National Fire Protection Association is warning that the lithium-ion batteries used to power them can overheat, catch fire and cause explosions.

Although no national data exists on how often e-bikes or e-scooters catch on fire, “it does happen with some regularity – and the numbers are rising,” says the NFPA, which does note that the New York City Fire Department has reported more than 130 such fires so far this year. “These fires have led to five deaths and dozens of injuries. In 2019, the first year FDNY started tracking e-bike fires, only 13 were reported.”

In an effort to prevent further injuries and deaths related to these devices, the NFPA recently published a safety tip sheet. Among its advice: Stop using an e-bike or e-scooter if its battery is emitting smoke or an unusual odor, changes color or shape, becomes hot, doesn’t take a charge, or begins to leak. If the battery does catch fire, leave the area immediately and call 911 – don’t try to put out the fire.

Other safety tips:

  • Use only the battery and charger that came with or were designed for your specific e-bike or e-scooter.
  • Stop charging your device or its battery once it’s fully charged.
  • Keep batteries at room temperature when possible and don’t charge them in temperatures below 32° F or above 105° F.
  • Don’t store batteries in direct sunlight or hot vehicles, and keep them away from liquids and young children.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

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