Exploding Batteries On A Plane: Recent In-Flight Fires Prompt Warnings About Loose Batteries

After one fire broke out in a overhead compartment on a JetBlue flight and another on an American Airlines aircraft flying from Argentina, the Department of Transportation has issued a warning to passengers traveling with loose batteries. The batteries in question are the type that power laptops, camcorders, and other “rechargeable” devices. If not stored properly the batteries can overheat and ignite.

In both cases crew were able to extinguish the fire and safely land the aircraft, however, that might not have been the case if the batteries had been stowed in checked luggage.

Do not check loose batteries. Keep spare batteries in their original retail packaging; keep loose batteries covered with insulating tape to protect them from contact with metal objects; place each battery in its own protective case, plastic bag, or package; and pack spare batteries in carry-on baggage, rather than checked baggage. Also, passengers should use only chargers designed for the battery type and take steps to prevent crushing, puncturing or dropping batteries. Also, don’t play hockey with your batteries or let babies chew on them. —MEGHANN MARCO

Department of Transportation Offers Advice on the Safe Transportation of Batteries and Battery-Powered Devices by Airline Passengers and Crew [DOT]