When it comes to the topic of battery safety, we are embarking on a subject that is almost as complex as that of battery technology itself. This is because every battery that is produced – and that’s a great many batteries in an enormous diversity – needs to be used, stored, and disposed of safely.
Given that the latest batteries can be anything from the USB-C rechargeable 9V type smart batteries (which are used in just the same way as the 9V household batteries of old) and the great multi-celled lithium-ion batteries found inside electric vehicles, it is easy to get bogged down in battery safety.
Perhaps it is wise then to restrict the scope of the question a bit and focus on the batteries most common in daily life. These are sometimes referred to as household batteries, although they include batteries in things like phones and laptops, which regularly travel with their owners out of doors. That said, we are not talking about the solar-powered cells that people take camping or outside generator batteries that often supply households with power during outages.
When we are talking about batteries for personal use, there is a good wealth of advice out there on how to use, store, and dispose of them properly. Some of them are fairly obvious; others, you may not be aware of. Thankfully, Pale Blue Earth, a company out of Park City, Utah that produces high tech USB rechargeable batteries that resemble the AA, AAA, etc. batteries of old, advise that much of the advice that has existed for generations still very much applies.
Charging Batteries Safely
One of the most important things to get right is to charge batteries properly. Normally, this isn’t really a safety concern but instead a means of ensuring that these batteries do not run down faster than they should, can hold optimal charge, and don’t become damaged quicker.
Ideally, batteries should be charged with the correct charger. You could get technical about this, but an easy way to ensure you use the right charger is simply to go with one from the same brand. Another pretty obvious (though certainly not unheard of) danger is charging non-rechargeable batteries. As a final point, you should worry about batteries becoming warm to the touch when charging – metal conducts heat – but, if they become unusually hot (i.e., different from before) you should remove them.
Storing Batteries Safely
Storing batteries properly is a matter of following a few simple tips. Never store the batteries for extended periods of time within the device itself, always place them in a box when not in use (shielded from light and heat), and be wary of button cells, which can sometimes short circuit when coming in contact with other batteries.
You should also be sure not to store batteries in a metal box or have them in contact with metal surfaces for extended periods of time. There is a danger of short circuiting and leakage if you do.
Disposing of Batteries Safely
Disposing of batteries sustainably is more of a complex issue than doing so safely. Batteries should be recycled when possible and they should also be recycled in the recycling points for their specific types. Some batteries are still poorly recycled, but that is a much bigger collective responsibility.
To dispose of batteries safely, all you need to do is ensure they are not leaking liquid first and, if they are, they should be placed in a sealable plastic bag before disposable.
Battery safety is an age-old wisdom, simply because batteries have been around for a long time. Thankfully, much of that wisdom still applies.