What you need to know to keep your electric bikes and scooters from catching fire

Montgomery County, Maryland, fire officials are warning users and owners of electric bikes and scooters of the possible fire hazards related to the charging of the devices.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service recently upped its educational outreach efforts after a fire broke out Friday, Oct. 28, on the 14th floor of the Twin Towers, a high-rise apartment building in downtown Silver Spring. Fire officials said an e-scooter battery malfunctioned while charging.

Three people were injured in the fire in the 1100 block of Fidler Lane, according to authorities. The owner of the e-scooter was hospitalized after suffering burns while trying to remove the burning scooter from his apartment. The damages totaled over $50,000.

In an informational flyer, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service noted that lithium-ion batteries in electric bikes and scooters can easily explode or catch fire if damaged or used incorrectly. They can also produce toxic gases and burn at extremely high temperatures.

The fire department recommends that you not charge e-bikes and e-scooters near the front door because a fire could prevent you from leaving your home.

As always, fire officials say that if a fire does occur, close the door, leave the premises immediately and call 911. Don’t try to fight the fire on your own.

The flyer offers these tips:

  • Only purchase and use devices, batteries, and charging equipment that are listed by a nationally recognized testing lab and labeled accordingly.
  • Always follow the instructions from the manufacturer.
  • Only use the battery and the charger that were designed for, and came with, the device.
  • Do not keep charging the device or device battery after it is fully charged.
  • Only charge one device or device battery at a time to prevent overloading the circuit.
  • Keep batteries at room temperature when possible.
  • Do not charge them at temperatures below 32°F (0°C) or above 105°F (40°C).
  • Do not store batteries in direct sunlight or inside hot vehicles, and keep them away from children and liquids.

Fire officials say if you notice your e-bike or scooter has an unusual odor, change in color, is overheating, leaking, smoking or not keeping a charge, you should no longer use it.

“There’s also some issues with these batteries that we use as a consumer. They supply power to many kinds of devices including smartphones, laptops, scooters, e-cigarettes, smoke alarms, toys, even cars. Take care of using them. And in rare cases, they do cause a problem,” said MCFRS spokesperson Peter Piringer in a comment to WTOP.

“This weekend for five days, firefighters from Montgomery County canvassed every neighborhood, we think it was very successful. We hope that we raised awareness and we hope that everybody will continue to use these devices safely,” added Piringer.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is the Evening Digital Editor at WTOP. She is a graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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