Exploding Cell Phone Batteries Result in Consumer Reports Warning

Problems with aftermarket cell phone batteries may pose a serious risk for consumers, according to new warnings by a U.S. Senator and Consumer Reports, which are urging federal safety regulators to crack down on defective and dangerous cell phone batteries.

Over the past few years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has identified at least 61 reports of cell phone batteries exploding, catching fire, overheating or expanding, with many of these incidents resulting in serious burns or injuries to consumers who may have been holding the device up to their face or had it in their pocket.

Consumers Union, which is the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has joined with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in calling for an investigation into the risk of cell phone battery problems and for the U.S. CPSC to review what steps could be taken to reduce the potential risk for consumers.

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Many cell phone manufacturers use lithium batteries. These batteries can often expand if overcharged. While there have been some problems with brand-name batteries, Schumer and Consumer Reports warn that the problem may be linked to off-brand batteries.

These aftermarket batteries are not made by the original manufacturer and are often very poorly constructed. Cheaply made batteries often will not have the safety device to detect overheating or overcharging, which may lead to expansions and explosions.

While a cell phone battery catching fire is a rare occurrence, several instances have gained media attention after shocking injuries were caused by a defective battery. In the United States, a Texas man was injured after a cell phone battery exploded while he was using the phone and a Minnesota boy was burned when his cell phone exploded in his pocket. In one reported case from China, a man placed his recently charged cell phone into his shirt pocket. The cell phone then exploded, severing an artery in the mans neck and causing him to bleed to death.

These cases are the rare extreme, but demonstrate a potentially avoidable risk that may become more of a problem as consumers look to purchase inexpensive aftermarket batteries, which are often made in China.

Cell Phone Precautions

Schumer is calling on the CPSC to determine if further action is needed against manufacturers of aftermarket batteries that have malfunctioned. Some manufactures reportedly use counterfeit labels to trick consumers, adding to the mounting concerns over the cell phone batteries.

In the meantime, Consumers Reports recommends individuals completely avoid buying off-brand batteries or chargers. They recommend only using accessories manufactured by the cell phone maker or products the manufacturer recommends.

Additionally, they recommend taking other precautions to ensure the proper functioning of the cell phone and battery. They recommend keeping batteries away from water or protecting cell phones with a water proof case or zip lock bag.

Keeping cell phones out of extreme heat is also advised, especially do not leave cell phones if parked cars on a hot day. Avoid allowing cell phones or batteries to touch metal objects, as contact may cause damage.

Be wary after a cell phone has sustained a particularly aggressive drop. Check the battery following a significant drop for any signs of damage. If the battery becomes unusually hot, turn the device off for a half hour before restarting. If it remains hot, take it in to the carrier store for inspection, or in the case of an iPhone take the phone into an Apple store.

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  • AnnMarch 26, 2017 at 12:40 am

    My cell phone blew up first it sparked then smoking like crazy then blew up into a ball of fire in my husband's hand.

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