Mobile phones can catch fire and even explode … but there are ways you can reduce the chance of that happening.
When it happens on board a packed passenger plane it can be particularly worrying. Tablets, laptops and other small electronic devices can potentially be dangerous too.
According to the Tech Advisor website: “There are several reasons why a phone battery might overheat. Sometimes it's very much an isolated incident while others, like the Note 7, have a fundamental flaw.
“There are two main causes of Lithium-ion batteries going wrong. The first is when one gets wounded, and by that we mean a break, piercing or similar. This could be caused by dropping your phone but, however it happens, the battery can short-circuit causing it to expand and potentially explode.
“Heat is the other main cause of battery fires and is usually related to charging. Charging a battery will result in some heat generation and if the temperature gets too high then an internal short-circuit can occur - it's not always because the battery itself is faulty.
“If your battery can't cool down quick enough 'thermal runaway' can happen, whereby a chain reaction accelerates the increase of temperature - and that is a recipe for disaster.
“With recent technology such as fast charging and the latest processors, there's more heat in today's phones than previously. The design of a phone may also be detrimental, especially when companies try to fit a large battery into a very thin phone without ensuring heat is sufficiently dissipated, or placing components too close together.”
So what can you do to mitigate the danger? Well, Tech Advisor has come up with a list to reduce the chance of your battery exploding.
* Use the correct charger – ideally, use the supplied charger with your device.
* Unplug once charged – try and be aware of when your phone is fully charged and unplug it to avoid unnecessary heat build-up.
* Charge in a safe place – it might sound silly but don't leave your phone charging under your pillow all night, for example.
* Remove cases – a case is like putting a jacket on and will restrict heat dissipation so take it off to charge or other heat inducing tasks.
* Avoid direct sunlight – your phone won't get a tan but the sun will heat it up so don’t leave it places like your car dashboard, especially when charging.
* Let your phone cool – whether you're charging, gaming or something else; let your phone cool down if it gets hot.
* Avoid pressure – you don't want the battery to get a puncture so don't sit on it or allow it to come under excessive pressure.
If a phone does catch fire on a plane more than 50 airline companies now carry AvSax fire mitigation bags. They have been deployed 27 times in 2017.
If an electronic device – and that includes e-cigarettes - starts to seriously overheat or emit smoke the cabin crew will pour at least two litres of water into an AvSax. It is imperative to first knock down the flames from the device using an on board halon fire extinguisher, then transfer the device into AvSax before it reignites. Additional water is then required. The water activates the polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then the AvSax is tough enough to absorb the energy.
The AvSax cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the battery igniting but if it does go into thermal runaway it is all contained within the bag.
Amazingly, the water is absorbed into the internal lining of the bag so the device is dry when it is removed.