E-Bikes and E-Scooters — a Deadly New Fire Risk

Increasingly, delivery workers are using e-bikes, which let them increase their capacity by going further and faster. Unfortunately, this has created a potentially fatal risk, if you store and charge e-bikes and e-scooters indoors. Last year, their batteries caused 216 fires, with 147 injuries and 6 deaths.

The London Fire Brigade attended two such fires on consecutive days in April, while another a few months earlier sadly resulted in a fatality. In one case, the problem was made worse because the burning bike was blocking the route of escape. In another case, the already smoking bike was moved to a communal area, allowing the fire to spread more easily.

A good deal of the problem seems to derive, as in at least one of these cases, from people buying non-standard or second-hand batteries or chargers online. This tends to happen especially when they convert an ordinary bike themselves. The electric motors often come without batteries or chargers, and many save money by buying them cheap online.

This can be extremely dangerous, since the lithium batteries used are significantly more powerful than regular batteries. If they are overcharged, overheated, crushed or penetrated, they can catch fire, or even explode. To add insult to injury, your insurer’s loss adjuster may well reject your insurance claim if carelessness charging an e-bike has caused the fire.

Staying Safe with E-Bikes and E-Scooters

  • Only buy batteries and chargers from reputable sources. There’s usually a reason why online bargains are cheap.
  • Check that your battery and charger meet UK safety standards. Warning signs include being hot to touch or going out of shape.
  • Make sure that the charger you buy is the official model for the battery. A reputable dealer will advise you on this.
  • Don’t charge your battery immediately after use. The battery is likely to heat up during use, so make sure it’s completely cooled down before charging.
  • Always unplug your charger as soon as it’s finished charging. This will be part of the manufacturers guidelines — read and follow all these guidelines.
  • Even if you follow all advice, any area where you charge is a fire risk and should be fitted with smoke alarms.
  • Whether or not you have an e-bike or e-scooter, never block your route of escape.
  • Never leave your battery on charge while you’re asleep or away from home. The rule of thumb is only charge any device if you’ll be able to smell the burning in time.

Following this advice will substantially reduce the risk of your e-bike or e-scooter causing a fire. If a fire does start in spite of everything, the loss adjuster should have no reason to turn down your insurance claim.

E-bikes and e-scooters can be both useful and fun, if used correctly. Allied Claims hope you can continuing enjoying them by staying safe.


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