People Urged to Safely Dispose of Lithium-Ion Batteries to Prevent Fires

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Local leaders urged people Friday to only dispose of lithium-ion batteries at special waste sites.

“Doing this does take a bit more work than throwing our batteries in a trash can, but we need to do this to ensure safety,” Montgomery County Council member Kate Stewart said.

Firefighters say people throwing lithium-ion batteries in the trash is causing more fires at waste facilities, putting workers and first responders in danger.

“As we all know, fires are dangerous, they’re destructive and disruptive, but they’re also preventable,” Arlington County Solid Waste Bureau Chief Erik Grabowsky said.

Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and can be found in things like phones, tablets, earbuds and portable chargers.  

If they go in the trash, they’ll get crushed by a compactor, which can spark a fire and let out toxic chemicals.

The company Fire Rover says the batteries are causing more fires at waste facilities in the U.S. and Canada.

The batteries cause fires in homes, too.

In February, an electric bike sparked a house fire in Sterling, killing a man who lived there.

In January, a hoverboard caught fire at a Southeast D.C. home.

“I didn't think it was going to happen to me,” said India Smith, who was displaced by that fire. “Like, trying to bring a child joy brought me and my family pain.”

To prevent fires, make sure not to overcharge devices with lithium-ion batteries, store them in a cool dry place, and don’t charge them near a couch or bed.

Firefighters also say not to be scared, just prepared.

The website Go Recycle has a list of all the local designated battery drop sites.

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