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Lithium Battery Safety

Lithium-ion batteries are used in many different items, including smart phones, laptops, e-scooters, e-cigarettes, toys, smoke alarms and even cars.

When these batteries are not used or charged properly, they can start a fire or explode.

The problem

Lithium-ion batteries store a large amount of energy in a small amount of space. These powerful batteries can potentially overheat and pose a fire hazard when they are not used the right way. Like any product, a small number of these batteries are defective which can also cause them to catch fire. 

Safety tips

  • When considering purchasing a device, choose those that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Only use the battery that is designed for the device and put the batteries in as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Only use the charging cord that came with the device.
  • If the device is damaged, take it to a qualified inspector for service before using or charging.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed or on a couch. Place the device on a hard surface to allow airflow around the device.
  • Keep batteries at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. Do not store batteries in hot vehicles.
  • Store batteries away from heating equipment or anything that can catch fire.
  • Avoid crushing, bending, or dropping a device and charger.
  • Never leave mobility devices unattended and charging in narrow exits such as doorways and hallways. In the event of a fire, this will block your escape. 

Signs of a problem

Stop using the battery if you notice these problems: odour, change in colour, too much heat, change in shape, leaking or odd noises. If it is safe to do so, move the device away from anything that can catch fire and call 9-1-1.

What to do in the case of a fire

Lithium-ion battery fires give off toxic gases and burn extremely hot, making them difficult to put out.

For small batteries: If you have a class ABC or BC fire extinguisher and are trained on using it, attempt to extinguish the fire. If you are not trained or do not have a fire extinguisher, get out of your home and call 9-1-1.

For large batteries: Because of the way the batteries are encased and the toxic nature of the gases, do not try to put them out. Leave the building or area and call 9-1-1.


Do not put lithium-ion batteries in the garbage and do not store discarded batteries in piles.

Batteries need to be separated and taken to a recycling retailer for safe handling. If they end up in any of The City of Calgary bins, the batteries can get crushed by equipment leading to fires at the recycling facility, composting facility or landfill sites.

You can find a list of recycling retailers at Call2Recycle.

To learn more about how and where to properly dispose of batteries, visit our webpage How to recycle rechargeable batteries.

Burned Lithium-ion batteries

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