WITH drones tipped to be a hot gift this Christmas, Australia’s largest battery retailer has warned there is a risk for the devices to overheat and explode, much like how dodgy hoverboards were bursting into flames two years ago.
There are estimated to be more than 50,000 recreation drones already in circulation across Australia.
And with more of the Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) battery powered devices set to land under the Christmas tree, General Manager of Battery World Australia Rowan Hodge warns their use and charging does come with some risk.
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“They are quite prone to overheating during charging and discharging in some circumstances,” Mr Hodge said.
“At the least, this requires a fair bit of common sense, and at the extreme, it poses a threat to people and property from an explosion or fire. The battery can store high volumes of power, charging and discharging quickly.
“Each year there are Li-Po fires, reported and unreported all across Australia.
“A particularly bad incident happened last year when a Li-Po battery was left on charge on a mattress in a Perth suburb resulting in a devastating house fire.
“The fire risk is particularly concerning because of the increasing number of such devices given to children as toys each year. And these toys are often stored and charged in children’s bedrooms.”
Mr Hodge said Li-Po batteries can explode at any time, not just when they are being charged.
“Just this year we were very lucky to escape a tragedy in Rockingham, WA when a discarded battery burst into flames in a Battery World store,” Mr Hodge said.
“The store was extensively damaged and it was only through good luck that a catastrophe was averted.”
Non-commercial Li-Po batteries are collected for recycling across the 105 Battery World stores in Australia.
Mr Hodge has some potentially life-saving advice for those planning to gift of a Li-Po powered device this Christmas.
“First off, you will get what you pay for,” he says.
“The cheaper the device, the lower the chance that the cells are safely encased to protect them effectively from impact, or that they have cut out chips which will be effective to arrest a thermal runaway (the precursor to a fire) if one starts.
“Secondly, if you are buying a drone, or any other remote control toy, make sure to talk to a battery expert about the safe storage, handling, charging and disposal of these cells.
“And third, never try to fight a Lithium fire, just evacuate the area and call 000. A Lithium fire burns very hot, and you can get a violent explosion if you douse it with water.”