So many of the objects we rely on for everyday life use lithium batteries. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, electric toothbrushes, rechargeable keyboards and mice, and Bluetooth headsets all rely on lithium batteries. So do e-bikes, e-cigarettes, AirTags, hoverboards, electric scooters, mobility scooters, digital cameras, and more.
In fact, lithium batteries have become so prevalent that it might be hard to understand why they’re restricted at all.
The bottom line is that lithium batteries are classified as a hazardous material by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Under certain conditions, lithium batteries can overheat and ignite, resulting in difficult-to-extinguish fires.
For example, you may remember the 2018 fire in the cargo hold of a Delta flight from Salt Lake City, UT to Bozeman, MT. In that incident, a lithium-ion battery in a piece of checked luggage overheated.
Lithium battery fires in airplane cargo holds can be particularly dangerous. The fire suppression systems built into these cargo holds generally use Halon to starve a fire of oxygen. However, this method isn’t particularly effective when it comes to lithium battery fires.
Because of their hazardous nature, there are significant restrictions around how lithium ion batteries are shipped. These rules especially come into play when you’re looking at shipping batteries to a remote destination like Hawaiʻi.