Wireless Battery Safety

Battery Basics

Most wireless devices use lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries because they offer a variety of advantages such as being lightweight, capable of holding their charge longer than other varieties and the ability to be recharged numerous times. In addition, these batteries have no toxic metals. In some of the newer and slimmer wireless devices, manufacturers have used the thinner lithium-ion-polymer batteries which provide the same benefits as the lithium ion batteries.

Yet Li-Ion batteries are more sensitive to physical stress than alkaline batteries found in toys and flashlights and need to be treated with more care.

Safety Recommendations

CTIA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend the following safety steps for consumers:
  • Do not use batteries and chargers that are incompatible with your mobile device. Some websites and secondhand dealers not associated with reputable manufacturers and carriers have been found to be selling incompatible, counterfeit or poorly manufactured batteries and chargers. Consumers should purchase manufacturer or carrier recommended products and accessories. If you're unsure about whether a replacement battery or charger is compatible with your mobile device, contact the original equipment manufacturer.  
  • Do not let a loose battery come in contact with metal objects, such as coins, keys or jewelry. Metal objects can cross the electrical connections and cause an incident. 
  • Do not crush, puncture or put a high degree of pressure on the battery, as this can cause an internal short-circuit, resulting in overheating.
  • Do not place the phone or batteries in areas that may get very hot, such as on or near a cooking surface, cooking appliance, iron or radiator. 
  • Avoid dropping the mobile device. Dropping it, especially on a hard surface, can potentially cause damage to the device and battery. If you suspect damage to the device or battery, take it to a service center for inspection. 
  • Do not let your mobile device or battery get wet. Even though the device will dry and appear to operate normally, the battery contacts or circuitry could slowly corrode and pose a safety hazard.
  • Follow battery usage, storage and charging guidelines found in the user’s guide. 

In 2005, CPSC, CTIA, and the IEEE, a prominent technical-standard setting organization, collaborated on the formation of a standard for wireless device batteries. This industry-wide standard for battery design and performance has contributed to a reduction in product recalls and an increase in independent laboratories testing batteries to the standards to certify compliance. 

Since March 2011, when CPSC first launched the open government, consumer product incident reporting site SaferProducts.gov, 61 consumer reports related to wireless mobile devices and their accessories have been posted for the public to view. Consumers who experience an incident with their mobile devices or accessories should report the incident.

CPSC and CTIA also urge consumers to properly dispose of their old batteries and equipment. There are many programs around the country that recycle wireless devices and equipment: wireless carriers and retailers, electronics manufacturers, charitable organizations and state and local waste authorities all offer ways to donate or recycle wireless mobile devices and equipment. 

Last Updated: November 2013

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