Our lifestyles are increasingly dependent on batteries. These ubiquitous sources of energy power everything from our cars and smartphones, to watches, remote controls and many other devices. However, these essential sources of power can be hazardous. A report from the Environmental Services Association (ESA) in the U.K. discovered that the incorrect disposal of batteries causes around 700 fires in Britain each year. This costs fire services $195 million. The financial loss is considerably higher for those whose property has burnt down. A leading fire expert said: "These fires can be challenging for fire services to deal with.…Everyone can do their bit…by ensuring they dispose of batteries correctly."
The biggest culprits for fires starting are lithium-ion batteries. These can explode and start fires if they are crushed or they get wet. An ESA spokesperson told the BBC that, "more and more people are putting devices containing these batteries in with household waste". He said: "That causes a real problem because they have a tendency – when damaged – to explode or ignite.…They're likely to be crushed, compacted, smashed or they might get wet.". He added: "That can cause them to short-circuit. And of course, they're then in the presence of other flammable material like plastic, paper and card and that can lead to quite big fires." The ESA encouraged people to be mindful of the potential hazards of batteries.