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Internet sales heighten the dangers posed by lithium-ion batteries

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging consumers “not to buy or use loose 18650 lithium-ion battery cells” that are typically manufactured as part of larger battery packs and are unintended for individual sale. The batteries are being separated, rewrapped and sold individually on e-commerce websites, CPSC warns in a recent news release.

The battery cells may have exposed metal positive and negative terminals that can overheat and short-circuit when they come into contact with metal objects, CPSC notes. The agency cautioned this could result in “fires, explosions, serious injuries and even death.”

These warnings are nothing new. From smartphones and laptops to hoverboards and electric cars, lithium-ion batteries are notorious for bursting into flame. They have caused household devices, cars, and even homes to catch fire, resulting in numerous life-threatening injuries.

Because of these dangers, CPSC conducted 73 recalls involving some five million lithium-ion battery powered consumer products from 2012-2019.

Unfortunately, unwitting consumers seeking bargains can easily find loose 18650 lithium-ion battery cells for sale online along with scores of other unsafe devices. Without knowing it, they are purchasing items that may lead to catastrophic accidents.

Your role as a manufacturer

Lithium-ion batteries are essential components in an increasing number of popular devices. But manufacturers are often held responsible for the risks they pose when they are misused or improperly resold.

What are you doing to ensure the safety of your product?

Re-assess your supply chain to ensure protocols and safety standards are followed. Go above and beyond and follow CPSC’s voluntary standards which can be found here.

What are you doing to communicate potential risks associated with the misuse of your product?

As a manufacturer or distributor of a product involving lithium-ion batteries, it’s your duty to effectively communicate with retailers and consumers about the proper use of these products.

Advise all customers of best practices for handling your product and inform them of the dangers associated with the misuse or abuse of your product. Provide them with the information they need to identify and discard used lithium-ion batteries. It’s the right thing to do and it will likely save a good deal in future regulatory, litigation, and insurance costs.

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