Keeping your devices safe after another battery catches fire midflight

Published: Jun. 1, 2017 at 4:51 PM CDT
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating a fire that erupted from laptop battery inside a carry on bag aboard a JetBlue flight. It happened on Tuesday with a flight traveling from New York to California. No injuries were reported, and 158 people on board.

The FAA says this is the 12th fire-related incident involving Lithium Ion batteries, which are used in your cell phones, tablets and laptops.

Valley News Live found out how battery fires happen and what you can do to protect yourself this summer.

"I like this, I thinks it's cause I really like the case," said Pam Meyer of Fargo.

Meyer says she loves her phone but does worry about the battery since sometimes it gets hot to the touch.

"I don't want it to blow up or burn my house down or burn me," said Meyer.

Many devices are transitioning into Lithium Ion batteries including toys your children play with. Interstate Batteries manager Josh Flemmer says the most common reason those batteries would catch fire is from over-heating or being punctured.

"It's better to replace the battery than try to recharge an old battery because the battery can expand and that can cause troubles if it does explode or something like that which is the worst case scenario," explained Flemmer.

Flemmer says there are ways to tell if your battery is losing life like the length of time it stays charged, age of the battery, if it has a springy bulge or gets hot. He suggests people trying the spin test.

"You can see the standard battery doesn't spin very well versus the battery that is bloated out," Flemmer said while showing a new and old Lithium Ion battery.

Flemmer adds the battery will get warm to the touch when charging but shouldn't ever be hot.

The sunny hot weather is also not good for batteries.

"Once they get hot they become more volatile and that is where people run into trouble," stated Flemmer.

Flemmer also recommends people not constantly charge their devices or run them down dead all the time.

"We recommend 30% to 40% then put that charge back into the battery," explained Flemmer.

As for Meyer, she plans to get her battery checked out.

"I didn't know a lot of that stuff, which is good because I should pass it on to my children," said Meyer.

The average life of a Lithium Ion battery depends on the use but if frequently used is one to two years. The average cost of replacing cell phone batteries is between $20 and $60 dollars. Internal batteries like in Iphones are harder to replace and cost more.