May Safety Tips: Household Flammables - Batteries and Medical Oxygen

There are many household materials that are potential fire hazards. Batteries and medical oxygen are examples of common household items that have the potential to cause or exacerbate a fire. Lithium-ion batteries supply power to many kinds of devices, including smartphones, laptops, scooters, e-cigarettes, smoke alarms and toys. These batteries should be treated carefully because in rare instances, they can cause a fire or explosion. Medical oxygen can cause material to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter. Below are some safety tips that can help to prevent home fires caused by batteries or medical oxygen. 

Household Flammables Safety Tips from the NFPA

  • Only use the battery that is designed for the device and put batteries into the device correctly.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed, or on a couch. Avoid excessive charging. Constantly charging a device can reduce the battery’s life or cause the battery to stop working.
  • Keep lithium-ion batteries at room temperature. Do not place lithium-ion batteries in direct sunlight or keep them in hot vehicles.
  • Stop using the lithium-ion battery if you notice any of the following problem signs: odor, change in color, too much heat, change in shape, leaking, or odd noises
  • Keep 9-volt batteries in their original packaging until you are ready to use them. If batteries are stored loose, keep the posts covered with masking, duct, or electrical tape. Prevent the posts from coming in contact with metal objects.
  • 9-volt batteries should not be thrown away with trash. They can be taken to a collection site for household hazardous waste. Recycling lithium-ion batteries is always the best option. Take lithium-ion batteries to a recycling location or contact your community for disposal instructions.
  • Never smoke where medical oxygen is used. Post “No Smoking” and “No Open Flames” signs inside and outside the home to remind residents and guests not to smoke.
  • Keep oxygen cylinders at least 1.5 m from a heat source, open flames, or electrical devices.
  • If medical oxygen or an oxygen tank is used in the home, the amount of oxygen in the air, furniture, clothing, hair, and bedding can increase, making it easier for a fire to spread. This means that there is a higher risk of fires and burns.
  • Where medical oxygen is in use, never use a sparking toy, an open flame such as a match or lighter, a fireplace or stove, or any other device fueled by gas, kerosene, wood, or coal.

Download Medical Oxygen Safety Infosheet

Download Lithium Ion Battery Safety for Consumers Infosheet

Download 9-volt Battery Safety Infosheet

Information sourced from NFPA Education Reference website at https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Educational-messaging/EMAC/EducationalMessagesDeskReference.pdf.

The NFPA safety tips factsheets are useful resources for public education; these and more information can be found on the NFPA website at https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education.