Fire hazard from battery-operated devices

In the last months, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced several recalls related to fire hazard from batteries. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from more than 15 000 types of consumer products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. Thus, in cooperation with CPSC, several companies announced voluntary recalls of digital cameras and lithium-ion batteries because these items may pose a fire hazard to consumers.  

In June 2006, Hewlett Packard (HP) recalled 680 000 digital cameras worldwide. The camera can cause non-rechargeable batteries to overheat when on its docking station or AC adapter. A case of the camera catching fire, causing smoke damage but no injuries, has been reported. In the meantime, HP has developed a firmware update that prevents the camera from applying a charge to a non-rechargeable battery.

In August 2006, two recalls concerning fire hazards through lithium-ion batteries took place:

On August 15th, Dell announced the worldwide recall of about 4.1 million lithium-ion battery packs, because they may overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers. Dell has received six reports of batteries overheating, resulting in property damage to furniture and personal effects. No injuries have been reported. According to the British online-magazine „The Inquirer", a Dell notebook exploded at a conference in Japan. 

On August 24th, Apple followed in voluntarily recalling about 1.8 million battery packs worldwide. Here too, the lithium-ion batteries can overheat, and create a fire hazard to consumers. Apple has received nine reports of batteries overheating, including two reports of minor burns from handling overheated computers and other reports of minor property damage. No serious injuries were reported. All these examples show that even equipment which is battery-operated at low voltages can present a fire risk.

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