Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New prohibition on lithium batteries in checked baggage

US DOT logoThe U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will prohibit loose lithium batteries from being carried in checked baggage, beginning today, January 1, 2008. The new rule is in response to the known fire risks of lithium batteries.

These batteries may still be packed in carry-on baggage. The DOT provides these tips for transporting spare batteries for devices such as cell phones, laptop computers, PDAs, cameras, and other battery-powered devices in order to prevent inadvertent activation aboard aircraft:
  • Pack spare batteries in carry-on baggage. In the passenger compartment, flight crews can better monitor safety conditions to prevent an incident, and can access fire extinguishers, if an incident does happen.
  • Keep spare batteries in the original retail packaging, to prevent unintentional activation or short-circuiting.
  • For loose batteries, place tape across the battery's contacts to isolate terminals. Isolating terminals prevents short-circuiting.
  • If original packaging is not available, effectively insulate battery terminals by isolating spare batteries from contact with other batteries and metal. Place each battery in its own protective case, plastic bag, or package. Do not permit a loose battery to come in contact with metal objects, such as coins, keys, or jewelry.
  • Only charge batteries which you are sure are rechargeable! Non-rechargeable batteries are not designed for re-charging, and become hazards if they are placed in a battery charger. NEVER attempt to recharge a battery unless you know it is rechargeable.
  • If you have already charged a non-rechargeable battery, do NOT bring such a battery on board an aircraft.
  • Use only chargers designed for your type of batteries. If unsure about compatibility, contact the product manufacturer.
  • Take steps to prevent crushing, puncturing, or putting a high degree of pressure on the battery, as this can cause an internal short-circuit, resulting in overheating.
Several months ago, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) issued a safety alert to its members regarding response to in-flight passenger electronic equipment fires. Click here to download the ALPA Safety Alert (3 page 'pdf' file).