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Take charge of your safety: LiPo batteries

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is warning people to make sure they take extra care when recharging lithium polymer batteries following a fire in Braintree which left a family of four homeless on Monday February 8.

Lithium Polymer, or LiPo, batteries, which are capable of storing more power than traditional batteries and are now used many toys and gadgets, need to be treated with extra caution as they are more volatile and can explode into flames if mishandled.

When charging LiPo batteries always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and consider the following extra precautions:

- Never charge the battery unattended
- If you have a multifunctional charger, thoroughly read the instructions and make sure it is in LiPo mode
- Place the charger & Battery on a non-flammable surface when charging & keep at least one metre away from flammable objects
- If possible place the battery inside a special LiPo bag or in a fireproof box container when charging
- Stop charging immediately if the battery gets warm or swells, disconnect and leave alone
- Never charge or recover a battery pack that is damaged, has swollen cells or cells that are below 3.0V
- Always use properly insulated connectors & leads.
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm

Station Officer Steve Wintrip, Braintree Fire Station, said: “This fire left four people homeless and had it not been for their working smoke alarm this fire could have had dire consequences. These batteries can become unstable if damaged or over-charged which results in rupture and fire.”

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said: “Our advice is never leave anything charging overnight or when you are not in the room but it is important to be extra careful when it comes to using these LiPo batteries.”

The best way to stay safe in your home is to ensure that you have working smoke alarms. To get free smoke alarms as part of free home safety visit call ECFRS on 0300 303 0088 or email webmaster@essex-fire.gov.uk

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