February 3, 2023
Earlier this week, there was a fire in town that started from an overheated lithium battery. In light of this fire, Middletown Township Fire Marshal Buddy Skelly and Fire Chief John Waltz Jr. would like to provide residents with tips on how to safely handle rechargeable lithium batteries. These batteries are typically found in electronics like power tools, computers, and cell phones.
Please follow these important fire safety precautions when using a rechargeable lithium battery:
Store your lithium battery in a dry, cool place that is away from other batteries and flammable items. Lithium batteries should also be stored away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and water.
Remove your lithium-powered device or lithium battery from the charging station once it is fully charged. Charging a lithium-powered device or battery to its maximum charge can cause the battery to decline quicker. A damaged lithium battery is more at risk of starting a fire.
Use the charger that your lithium-powered device came with. Manufacturers provide customers with a charger that is best suited for the device. This ensures that your lithium-powered device and battery are being properly used. When you notice that your batteries no longer charge, it is time to dispose them.
Never throw a lithium battery in your garbage or recycling bin. Monmouth County residents can bring lithium batteries to the Monmouth County Household Hazardous Waste Facility (3211 Shaffto Road in Tinton Falls) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11 AM-4 PM and Saturdays from 8 AM-4 PM. When disposing your batteries, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends taping the battery terminals (or connections) with non-conductive tape. Electrical tape is preferred, but all adhesive tapes not made of metallic material will work. Alternatively, placing each battery in its own plastic bag also isolates the terminals.
If you notice that a lithium battery is damaged or starting to smoke, immediately bring the battery outside of your home and away from flammable items. Wear gloves so your bare hands are not touching the battery. Place the battery inside a watertight, fire-resistant container filled with cat litter, dirt, or sand. Call the Monmouth County Household Hazardous Waste Facility to see if they can properly dispose the battery.
If you have any questions, please call the Middletown Fire Prevention Office at 732-615-2272.