As 2023 Ends: 18 New Yorkers Have Died in 220 Fires Started by Lithium-Ion Batteries

As 2023 Ends: 18 New Yorkers Have Died in 220 Fires Started by Lithium-Ion Batteries

By Yehudit Garmaise

Illegal, uncertified lithium-ion batteries are “ticking time bombs,” FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said last month after three Brooklyn family members and 14 more residents in Crown Heights were injured in a battery blaze.

“[Faulty e-scooter batteries] cause either massive fires or deaths, or both,” she said.

New Yorkers are dying in increasing numbers as a result of explosions sparked by improperly made and used batteries used for e-scooters and bikes.

While 10 residents passed away in both 2021 and 2022, as 2023 nears its end, 18 New Yorkers have died after at least 220 fires were started by faulty lithium-ion batteries.

The fires caused by lithium-ion batteries are especially lethal because they start without any warning, leaving no time for escape.

"[Such fires] go from nothing to a sudden explosion of fire," Kavanagh told CBS News. "We see first responders not able to get in."

To stay safe, consumers must always purchase their lithium-ion batteries from reputable companies that provide safety certifications. 

Buyers should not mix manufacturers' batteries and chargers nor leave devices charging unattended or near flammable items.

To ensure safe escapes in case of fires, never block doors or exit paths with lithium-ion battery-powered devices, the FDNY advises.

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