A safety warning has been issued over e-bikes and e-scooters after two house fires over the Easter weekend.
The first happened at a semi-detached house in Dalston, east London, when a charging e-bike set alight in the early hours of Easter Sunday.
A man was rescued from the first floor where the bike had blocked an escape route and he was treated for smoke inhalation.
A second fire broke out on the ground floor of a three-bedroom house in Streatham, south London, on Easter Monday.
A man was led to safety by firefighters while a woman and three children left the house before fire crews arrived.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) says these types of fires are caused by charging lithium batteries, and warns people to pay attention to bike conversion kits and not attempt to modify or tamper with the battery.
Lithium batteries store a significant amount of energy in a very small space and are much more powerful compared to other types of batteries.
How to reduce risk of e-bike and e-scooter fires
- Batteries can get warm during use. Allow them to cool down before attempting to re-charge.
- They should always be charged on hard flat surfaces where heat can dissipate.
- Batteries can also pose a risk if they have been damaged, so try to ensure they are not getting knocked around while in use or while being carried.
- They should never be exposed to extremes of temperature.
- Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when charging.
- Never leave it charging unattended or charge it while you are asleep.
- You should always make sure you unplug your charger once it’s finished charging.
- Always use the correct charger for your batteries and buy any replacements from a reputable seller.
- Never block your escape route with e-bikes or e-scooters.
- Store and charge them somewhere away from a main through route or exit.
- Make sure you and your family have an escape plan in place in the event of a fire. Always call 999, never try to fight the fire yourself.
When this energy is released in an uncontrolled way it can cause a fire.
Overheating, crushing, penetrating or overcharging can also cause a fault within damaged battery cells which may cause the battery to catch fire or explode.
LFB deputy commissioner Dom Ellis said: ‘Investigators believe a converted e-bike caught fire at the house in Dalston and we understand the bike’s batteries were purchased online second-hand.
‘The bike was on charge at the time and due to where it was being charged, blocked an escape route and a man had to be rescued by our firefighters via a short extension ladder.
‘It is vital that you never block your escape route with anything, including e-bikes and e-scooters. And the only way to be sure of a legal, safe and reliable e-bike is to buy one in complete form, from a trusted and reputed retailer.
‘Meanwhile, at the incident on Barrow Road, a smoking e-scooter was moved by an occupant from a room to a communal area of the house where the fire then spread.
‘Moving the scooter significantly increased the risk to everyone inside the house and reaffirms our advice which is if you suspect there is a fire involving these types vehicles, leave it, shut the door, get out and call 999.’
LFB has been called to an e-bike or e-scooter fire once every two days in 2023 – a 60% increase compared to the same period last year.
Most people injured in these fires are in their 20s, and this is more likely to occur in homes where multiple adults are living together without children.
Sofia Duarte, 21, died on New Year’s Day after a converted e-bike battery burst into flames in her Southwark flat.
The LFB has set up the #ChargeSafe campaign, which aims to highlight the fire risks associated with lithium batteries.
A charity recently also issued a safety warning over the use of electric heaters through the cost of living crisis.
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