Warning for all e-bike and e-scooter enthusiasts to note a crucial safety warning approaching the festive season. Overheating lithium-ion batteries have led to a startling increase in fires across the UK in recent years.

12 December 2023

Trading Standards has issued a stark warning this Christmas regarding the purchase of e-bikes and e-scooters. Recent data reveals a distressing trend: the number of fires related to lithium batteries has quadrupled in the UK over the past three years, making it essential for consumers to stay informed and vigilant.

The culprits in these incidents are overheating lithium-ion batteries, notorious for sparking fierce fires and emitting toxic smoke. Astonishingly, such incidents are now occurring at a rate of at least six a week in the UK, according to fire and safety experts. National statistics are equally concerning, with reports of 190 individuals sustaining injuries in fires linked to lithium-ion batteries since 2020 and, tragically, 10 fatalities.

In light of these concerning developments, North East Lincolnshire’s Trading Standards team is imploring people to be cautious, particularly when purchasing from less regulated online marketplaces. This warning aligns with an Important Safety Message from the UK’s national product regulator, the Office for Product and Safety Standards (OPSS).

To mitigate the risk of fire incidents, the OPSS recommends following five crucial steps when purchasing, using, or charging an e-bike or e-scooter:

Step 1: Research: Only purchase these devices, chargers, or batteries from reputable sellers, and be sure to check product reviews.

Step 2: Read: Always carefully read and adhere to the manufacturer's instructions for charging and using e-bikes or e-scooters.

Step 3: Check: Confirm that the battery and charger you are using are compatible and recommended by the manufacturer.

Step 4: Charge: Charge your device in a safe location, avoiding exits, and unplug the charger when finished.

Step 5: Never: Under no circumstances should you attempt to modify or tamper with your battery.

Councillor Ron Shepherd, Portfolio Holder for Safer and Stronger Communities in North East Lincolnshire, emphasises the importance of adhering to these safety guidelines:

“As the popularity of e-bikes and e-scooters increases, we are seeing more dangerous incidents involving fires in homes where e-bikes or e-scooters are charging. I urge people to follow the safety guidelines and to only buy e-bikes and scooters from reputable dealers."

He further warns about the rapid onset of fires caused by lithium-ion battery failures and encourages consumers to prioritize safety when choosing these items as Christmas gifts. Safety should be paramount, and users must remain vigilant while using or charging their devices. The following signs should be treated as immediate red flags:

Overheating: If your device's battery feels excessively hot to the touch.

Deformation: If your battery appears swollen or exhibits any lumps or leaks.

Noise: If your battery emits hissing or cracking sounds.

Smell: If you detect a strong or unusual odour emanating from the battery.

Performance: If your battery fails to fully charge or takes an unusually long time to charge.

Smoke: If your battery or device begins to release smoke.


If your lithium-ion battery poses a fire risk, take the following steps:

  • If the device starts smoking or catches fire, immediately sound the alarm, evacuate the premises, and dial 999 for emergency assistance.
  • If your battery shows any signs of failure, power off the device and unplug it from the power source. Contact the device manufacturer or retailer for further guidance.
  • Report your faulty charger or battery to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service, which can also provide advice on your consumer rights.

Charging your e-bike or e-scooter safely is vital:

  • Avoid charging these devices in bedrooms or locations that can obstruct escape routes.
  • Never leave your battery charging unattended, especially when you're away or asleep.
  • Do not cover chargers or battery packs during charging.
  • Steer clear of overloading sockets or using inappropriate extension leads.
  • Do not charge or store batteries in direct sunlight or hot environments exceeding 45⁰C.
  • Avoid charging batteries near combustible materials or hazardous substances.
  • Always unplug your charger upon completing the charging process.

Fire safety measures should include:

  • Installing smoke alarms in areas where batteries are charged.
  • Regularly charging and testing batteries to ensure they function correctly.
  • Having an emergency escape plan in place for fires, prioritizing safety over attempting to extinguish the fire.
  • Ensuring you follow the manufacturer's instructions for using and charging your product.
  • Exclusively using manufacturer-approved batteries and chargers.
  • Regularly inspecting your product for damage or warning signs of battery failure and potential fire risk.
  • Never attempting to modify or tamper with your battery.
  • When purchasing e-bikes, e-scooters, chargers, or batteries:

Only buy from reputable retailers and manufacturers. Verify that the product bears a CE or UKCA mark, indicating compliance with UK product safety standards, and consult product reviews before making a purchase. Register your product with the manufacturer to validate warranties and facilitate communication in case of safety issues or product recalls.

For those considering e-bike conversion kits, it is strongly advised to enlist the services of a professional. They are equipped to ensure that the conversion is conducted safely, with the correct motor, battery, and charger. Attempting to install a conversion kit independently can lead to safety concerns, void warranties, and potentially result in accidents or damage. Modifications that increase an e-bike's power or speed may render it illegal for use on public roads.

Proper disposal of lithium-ion batteries is crucial. These batteries should not be placed in regular rubbish or recycling bins, as they can pose a fire hazard when overheated or crushed in waste management processes. To learn how to dispose of lithium-ion batteries safely, consult your local authority's website or visit www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk to find your nearest recycling centre.

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