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Battery care: Avoid the hazards!

When you buy food, you know that it will go bad at some point. Luckily, best-before dates are printed on the packaging as recommendations. You also understand that there are ways certain food items should be stored. But did you know that rechargeable batteries work the same way? Just like food, rechargeable batteries are perishable, slowly fading from the day they are manufactured. No need to worry, though; there are ways to properly charge and store your batteries to extend their lives and minimize potential hazards like corrosion, leaking, and burning. Here’s what you need to know.

Types of rechargeable batteries
Rechargeable batteries are used to power many everyday items like cellphones, laptops, and cameras and come in all shapes and sizes. They are great because they can repeatedly be used long-term by plugging in the battery-operated device or using a battery charging station.

Below are some examples of rechargeable batteries:

  • Lithium-ion (Li-ion)

  • Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)

  • Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)

  • Sealed Lead Acid (SLA)

Don’t overdo it
One of the most important ways to extend battery life is to avoid overcharging. Battery University explains that prolonged overcharging causes permanent battery damage. Disconnect your charger once the battery has reached full charge.

Be present
Whenever possible, recharge your batteries while you are within reach. If a device with a defective battery is left unattended and overheats, it could cause a battery fire. Make sure your smoke detectors and fire extinguisher work in case something happens.

Avoid flammables
Set your device or battery charger on a non-flammable surface during charging. The battery shouldn’t overheat if there is good air circulation and minimal direct sunlight exposure.

Don’t be extreme
Rechargeable batteries are often exposed to unfavourable temperatures, like if you leave your phone in your car on a really hot or cold day. Extreme temperatures can shorten the battery life, so storing your batteries and devices in a cool place is always best. Battery University advises that most batteries should be stored at 15°C. This temperature reduces the risk of non-recoverable losses that permanently lower a battery’s capacity.

Use the proper method
Always charge rechargeable batteries in the device it is meant for, the charger it came with, or a manufacturer-recommended charger. Chargers are designed for specific battery types, so mixing chargers and batteries could cause unexpected problems. Check the device or battery manufacturer’s website for instructions if you plan on using a new charging method.

Don’t mix and match
Never mix rechargeable and disposable batteries in a charger – disposable or alkaline batteries are not rechargeable and should not in any way be placed in a charger. Manufacturers also caution users not to mix rechargeable battery brands in a charger. Each brand should be charged separately to prevent any hazards.

Be kind to the dead
What are you supposed to do with your used or dead batteries? Store them in a non-conductive container, like plastic or cardboard, in a cool and dry area that is out of reach of small children. Do not store batteries with flammable or conductive materials like paper clips, steel wool, etc. Raw Materials Company Inc. recommends taping the positive terminal end (marked with a + symbol or identified as the red terminal for a Sealed Lead Acid battery) so that it does not come into contact with metal or other batteries.

Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!
Do not throw your used or dead batteries in the trash – they may burst or explode. Instead, Raw Materials Company Inc. makes recycling batteries easy. Visit their website and enter your postal code or city to see the closest recycling points from your search location. By recycling your batteries through Raw Materials Company Inc., you can be assured that they will be managed responsibly and not discarded into landfill.

Be safe
Think twice the next time you are tempted to take a shortcut when storing, charging, or recycling your battery-operated device. It has been reported that the number of battery-related incidents has increased five times since 20161. Taking a few more precautions can protect yourself and your family from potential hazards and extend the life of your batteries.

If you are currently an OTIP client and want to review your coverage, contact us at 1-833-494-0090. If you are shopping for home insurance, call 1-888-892-4935 today for a free quote.

  1. International Association of Fire and Rescue Services
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