A Merseyside family was lucky to escape with their lives when an electric bike caught fire in the front room of their Huyton home last week, in the one of the most recent serious incidents attended by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) involving electric bike and scooter batteries.
MFRS has issued an urgent warning following a spate of fires caused by electric bikes and scooters and is urging users to be aware of the significant risks involved in charging, storing and obtaining lithium-ion batteries.
The two-storey terraced home of the family of six was left severely damaged by fire and is now unliveable, while all family members were treated for smoke inhalation and the youngest child needed treatment at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Had the fire happened while the family were sleeping, the outcome may have been very different.
In another incident in St Helens last week, a two-storey terraced house was also left uninhabitable after an electric scooter being charged in a first floor bedroom caught fire in the early hours of the morning. Importantly, the home’s hard-wired smoke alarms actuated, allowing the sole occupant to escape unharmed.
Three weeks ago in a hotel in Hatton Garden, Liverpool, two casualties suffered smoke inhalation and minor burns to their bodies after an electric bike on charge in their hotel room caught fire. Both occupants were taken to hospital by ambulance and later discharged.
This rise in serious incidents involving electric bikes and scooters has coincided with the increased popularity of their use. MFRS is advising those who use them to adhere to the following important fire safety and prevention advice:
- Do not charge electric bike or scooter batteries unsupervised and never while you are asleep – switch off chargers at night or when fully charged
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when charging
- If possible, charge electric bike or scooter batteries somewhere outside of your home, eg external garage
- If charging in the home, ensure smoke alarms are fitted, working and are regularly tested
- Do not store electric bikes or scooters in escape routes around the home, or in communal areas (or main exit route areas) of high-rise properties
- Always purchase electric bike and scooter batteries from reputable suppliers and ensure any purchases meet correct and up-to-date safety standards
- Do not use conversion kits, as standard push bikes converted into electric bikes pose a higher safety risk due to batteries and chargers often sourced from different suppliers
MFRS Area Manager for Prevention Mark Thomas said: “Electric bike and scooter batteries have become a major source of fires in the home here in Merseyside.
“We’re urging those who use electric bikes and scooters to protect themselves and their loved ones by adhering to the advice before we see a real tragedy occur.
“Fires caused by electric bike and scooter batteries are aggressive and can develop quickly, which is why it’s so important to ensure they are not charged unattended and always close to working smoke alarms.
“The incidents we’ve attended recently here in Merseyside could have been fatal if the occupants were asleep or if the properties didn’t have working smoke alarms fitted. Don’t let it happen to you.”