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Education, not bans: Expert advises on lithium battery safety in apartments


James Carlton, Head of Strata at Stratacare Australia, has emphasised the importance of understanding and mitigating the potential dangers associated with lithium battery charging in residential apartment buildings, as the popularity of these batteries in various devices continues to grow.

“Lithium-ion batteries offer high energy density and rechargeability, making them popular in various devices. However, improper handling or charging can lead to significant risks, particularly concerning fire hazards,” Mr Carlton said.

He highlighted the risk of thermal runaway, a chain reaction of heat generation, which poses a severe threat to residents’ safety in shared living spaces like apartments. The use of cheap or incompatible chargers, overcharging, and leaving devices unattended while charging can increase the likelihood of a dangerous situation developing.

While prohibiting the charging of certain lithium battery-powered devices in apartments may seem like a straightforward solution, Mr Carlton stressed the challenges such measures entail, including the diverse range of devices residents use and the potential for confusion and conflicts arising from misinterpretation.

He also noted the balance between safety concerns and residents’ privacy rights and personal freedoms, stating, “While the body corporate’s primary concern is the safety of the community, residents have a right to use their living spaces according to their needs and habits. Implementing a bylaw to restrict charging devices could lead to debates over individual rights versus communal safety.”

Instead of pursuing an outright ban, Mr Carlton suggests promoting safety awareness and education to empower residents to make informed decisions. He recommends the following safety measures be strongly and consistently communicated to apartment residents:

  1. Use quality chargers that are compatible with your devices
  2. Charge in well-ventilated areas, avoiding flammable surfaces
  3. Avoid overcharging and unplug devices once fully charged
  4. Regularly inspect cables and batteries for signs of wear or damage
  5. Do not leave charging devices unattended, especially overnight

“By conducting safety awareness campaigns and communications, residents, property managers, and body corporates can work together to prevent accidents and promote responsible charging practices,” Mr Carlton said.


He concluded by emphasising the importance of community collaboration in ensuring safety, stating, “By adhering to safe charging practices and being vigilant about the devices we use, we can mitigate the risks associated with lithium battery charging.”

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