A fire involving a popular electronic toy that put a number of children’s lives in danger has once again highlighted the dangers of lithium-ion batteries.
Shortly after 8pm on Monday 13 May a two-wheeled self-balancing electronic scooter, which are commonly known as hoverboards, exploded as it was being charged in the living room of the family’s home in Masefield Avenue.
Five children, aged between five and 10, were all asleep upstairs at the time.
Fortunately dad Robert Jones, 33, was awake and heard the hoverboard crackling and then saw it explode as he went into the living room to investigate.
The explosion activated the smoke alarms in the house and also alerted neighbours to the resulting fire.
The neighbours helped Robert wake up the children and carry them outside to safety.
No-one required medical attention but the fire caused significant damage to the living room, particularly the floor, walls and dining table.
Mum Claire Bevan, 30, said: “I was not at home at the time of the fire. I returned to find fire engines outside my home and that my sleeping children had been rescued by my partner Robert and neighbours.
“As a family we are aware of the possibility of hoverboards being charged causing a fire.
“We bought it from a reputable retailer and it was only left charging for 20 minutes.
“It just goes to show that frightening things you read about in the news can happen to you.
“The incident has left the whole family extremely shaken up and emotionally scarred.
“But the incident could have been far worse. We would never have left the hoverboard charging whilst we went to bed as we are aware of the dangers of doing that. I dread to think what the consequences could have been if we weren’t so knowledgeable about hoverboards and if the fire had started later at night.
“A charging hoverboard exploding like that could have killed another family, especially if they didn’t have smoke alarms.
An investigation has been carried out to establish the cause of the fire.
It is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.
Widnes Fire Station Manager Stuart Devereux said: “Hoverboards have become extremely popular among children in recent years and there have been instances of the electric scooters hitting the headlines nationally and internationally for causing fires.
“There are three main causes of fires involving lithium ion batteries such as those used in hoverboards: the wrong charger being used, mechanical damage to the battery and a manufacturing defect.
“The lithium ion batteries used in hoverboards and other rechargeable items contain chemicals which are flammable.
In the event of a short circuit or an over-charge situation, they can heat up very quickly and burst into flames. The resulting fire, although relatively small, can be very intense and will produce dense smoke.”
Chemstore UK Managing Director Mike Brodie comments: “This incident goes to show yet again the unpredictable nature of lithium-ion batteries.
“Thankfully in this incident everyone was okay but it is a reminder of the potential devestation the technology can cause.
“Stories such as this one often drive an increase in enquires to Chemstore UK from companies concerned about the hazards associated with handling and storing lithium-ion batteries in their workplaces.
“Unfortunately we find that people are often using inadequate storage systems and have frequently had poor advice.
“As hazardous materials experts the Chemstore team has a wealth of experience in this area and we have even developed a dedicated storage solution, the Electrovault, designed specifically for the safe storage of lithium-ion batteries.”
Call today for more information or to book your free site safety assessment on 0208 704 1807.