Westchester warns holiday shoppers about lithium-ion batteries
Westchester County officials have a safety warning for the holiday shopping season. County Executive George Latimer says if you're buying anything with a lithium-ion battery, you need to make sure it's matched with its proper charger.
Bad batteries and chargers have caused several fires across the country.
"Mixing and matching lithium-ion batteries, chargers or cords is literally a recipe for disaster," Latimer said. "Using the correct battery and charging devices is the law in Westchester and essential to keeping our residents safe."
Make sure you're buying a product tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
The county says you may not even realize lithium-ion batteries are in products you're buying. Items with lithium-ion batteries include:
-Portable power banks for cellphones
-Ride-on electric toy vehicles
-E-scooters and e-bikes
"Due to the larger amounts of energy being stored, these batteries have a lower tolerance for abuse, such as being dropped or stepped on. People should be aware of this, particularly when the toys are being used by younger children," said Douglas Stiller, chief of special operations at the Department of Emergency Services.
Westchester County has focused on lithium-ion battery safety recently.
The Board of Legislators recently passed a law from the county executive that requires warnings at stores that sell e-scooters and e-bikes.
It also offers safe disposal options for batteries and adds to firefighter training and public education about the batteries.
"DES personnel offered the following lithium-ion battery safety tips:
-Do not charge any device under a pillow, on a bed, or on a couch or armchair
-Keep batteries at room temperature and avoid placing them in direct sunlight or in a hot car
-Store batteries away from anything flammable
-Do not leave batteries and devices unattended when charging
-Only use the battery and charging cord that came with the device
-Replace and safely dispose of any battery that changes shape, sparks, or emits unusual sounds
Residents can bring lithium-ion batteries, damaged or otherwise ready for disposal, to the H-MRF in Valhalla. Residents outside the Refuse Disposal District (Bedford, Lewisboro, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and Somers), may incur a fee associated with handling and/or disposal. New York State also offers an extended producer responsibility program for non-mobility batteries under 25 pounds administered by Call2Recycle. Residents can contact Call2Recycle to find a drop-off location near them.
Some manufacturers handle lithium-ion battery disposal directly. Residents may consider contacting the manufacturer of the battery or product for safe disposal options.
Certain brands of lithium-ion batteries used for e-bikes can be brought to a local e-bike retailer for handling.
When transporting lithium-ion batteries that are damaged, residents should take care to package them for transport and may place them in sand or kitty litter.
Extra-large lithium-ion batteries, such as those used for electric vehicles, are not accepted at the H-MRF. Residents should contact the manufacturer for safe disposal options of these batteries.
Residents should contact the local fire department if there is a thermal event (sparking or fire) from a lithium-ion battery. Fire departments are trained to respond to these events and secure the battery to prevent re-ignition of the battery."