Can Charging Your Cell Phone Start a Fire? Here’s How to Stay Safe

Charging electronic devices is something we do each day without thinking. Placing a cell phone on the bed for charging, plugging in an iPad and resting it on a blanket, or charging a laptop on the couch.

However, this seemingly innocent act can be as dangerous as burning a candle unattended. The lithium-ion batteries found in these and various other electronic gadgets have the potential to malfunction, presenting a significant fire hazard.

When you charge an electronic device on a soft surface, its battery can overheat, leading to a fire risk that poses a danger to you and your home or workplace.

The Fire Risk Associated with Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are the power source for numerous portable electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops, tablets, headphones, game controllers, vaping devices, electric bikes, kitchen appliances, handheld power tools, and toys.

These batteries are favoured for their ability to provide substantial power compared to their compact size. However, their sensitivity to heat is what makes them a safety concern. If a lithium-ion battery pack is dropped, it has the potential to ignite and, in some cases, even explode, causing harm to nearby objects and individuals.

When you use an electronic device frequently, it’s common to set it aside without much consideration – whether it’s under your pillow while you sleep, nestled in the couch cushions, left unattended on a carpeted surface, or forgotten within a pile of clothing. Soft surfaces that can easily catch fire are particularly unsafe locations for leaving such devices.

Charging Your Phone and Other Electronics Can Start a Fire

Prioritize your safety and that of your electronic devices, whether they’re charging or not. Follow these essential safety tips:

  1. Charge your electronic devices on a firm, level surface for proper ventilation.
  2. Avoid charging devices on soft surfaces like bedding, couches, blankets, or piles of laundry. Such materials can trap heat around the battery, so sleeping with your phone beneath your pillow or letting children take cell phones or tablets to bed is unsafe.
  3. Keep your device away from direct sunlight and avoid furnace vents or other heat sources.
  4. If your device has been exposed to sunlight, allow it to return to room temperature before charging.
  5. Charge your battery in a location where you can monitor it for signs of overheating, and remember to unplug your device once it reaches a full charge. Delay plugging in your phone or other electronics until you’re awake and alert or before leaving for the day.
  6. Utilize the charger that originally came with your device. If you purchase or replace a charger, ensure the voltage and current ratings match your device’s requirements.
  7. Confirm that your charger bears a recognized Canadian certification mark, such as CSA, cUL, or cETL, signifying compliance with Canadian electrical safety standards.
  8. Dispose of damaged cables with exposed wiring or any insulation-related issues safely.
  9. Never attempt to repair a lithium-ion battery-powered device alone; entrust it to an authorized service dealer.
  10. In the event of an immediate need to extinguish a fire resulting from a malfunctioning lithium-ion battery, opt for an ABC or BC dry chemical fire extinguisher. Avoid using water or a fire extinguisher designed for metal fires (Class D).

Stay Safe by Being Insured

Ensure your peace of mind by securing the appropriate insurance coverage. Please consult with your home insurance broker or contact us at Alpine Insurance to discuss the necessary protection for your home, workplace, and personal well-being in case of a fire caused by a lithium-ion battery in your electronic device. Take care and stay safe!

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