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A Dunedin house fire has sparked a warning over the risks of lithium ion batteries.
An investigation found a blaze that badly damaged a Lookout Point house last weekend may have been caused by a battery that had been recently charged.
A Fire and Emergency spokeswoman said lithium ion batteries had become more common in household devices such as smart phones, laptops, e-bikes, e-cigarettes, and toys.
That meant the risk of them starting a fire had risen.
‘‘Like any electrical product, it is critical that lithium ion batteries and devices containing them are used and maintained as per the manufacturer’s instructions to minimise the risk of them starting a fire.
‘‘A lithium ion battery can catch fire or even explode if it is dropped and sustains damage as a result. Its terminals create a short circuit on a metal object or through water getting into the battery; or if the batteries are somewhere where they can get hot and overheat.’’
To avoid potential risks, devices should not be charged under a pillow, on the bed or on a couch, or if the battery shows signs of swelling, overheating or damage.
Only use the battery designed for the device and the right charger.
Batteries should not be left in direct sunlight or in hot vehicles, and should be stored away from anything that could catch fire.
If your device or battery is hot, smoking or catches fire while charging, turn off the power if it can be done safely.