It is a terrifying sight: an e-bike battery spewing out toxic white smoke and erupting into flames with such ferocity that it could prove fatal.

That is the warning from electrical safety experts, who say if such a fire breaks out it can destroy a room in minutes. 

To make matters worse, a new survey by the charity Electrical Safety First has found that hundreds of e-bike and e-scooter owners are at risk of inadvertently sparking such a blaze by using incompatible chargers.

Almost half (43 per cent) of those questioned said they used a charger that wasn’t supplied with their bike or scooter when it was sold, prompting fears that such a device might not be compatible with the voltage of their battery.

Of the 430 people who admitted to doing so, 1 in 3 knew that the charger they were using was not compatible with their e-scooter’s battery, while 1 in 5 didn’t know. 

Worrying: It is a terrifying sight: an e-bike battery spewing out toxic white smoke and erupting into flames with such ferocity that it could prove fatal

Worrying: It is a terrifying sight: an e-bike battery spewing out toxic white smoke and erupting into flames with such ferocity that it could prove fatal

Worrying: It is a terrifying sight: an e-bike battery spewing out toxic white smoke and erupting into flames with such ferocity that it could prove fatal

A new survey by the charity Electrical Safety First has found that hundreds of e-bike and e-scooter owners are at risk of inadvertently sparking such a blaze by using incompatible chargers

A new survey by the charity Electrical Safety First has found that hundreds of e-bike and e-scooter owners are at risk of inadvertently sparking such a blaze by using incompatible chargers

A new survey by the charity Electrical Safety First has found that hundreds of e-bike and e-scooter owners are at risk of inadvertently sparking such a blaze by using incompatible chargers

The danger of incompatible chargers, safety experts warn, is that they risk supplying a battery with too much voltage, which can then spark a catastrophic process called thermal runaway.

This is where the battery goes into an uncontrollable self-heating chemical reaction which leads to a fire breaking out that can destroy a room in minutes.

It is for this reason that Electrical Safety First is calling for a ban on universal chargers for e-bike and e-scooter batteries, whereby a charger comes with multiple outlets to connect to various batteries.

The charity has shared a video of what such a blaze can look like to coincide with the release of its new report, Battery Breakdown, which looks at ways to crackdown on a spate of deadly e-bike fires across Britain.

In the footage, a toxic smoke that can be incredibly harmful if inhaled is first shown pouring from the battery.

It is then only a matter of seconds before sparks erupt and the battery bursts into flames.

Such is the ferociousness of thermal runaway that the battery shoots around the room as the huge amount of energy is expelled.

‘Incorrectly charging your e-bike or e-scooter battery comes at a dangerous cost,’ said Giuseppe Capanna, of Electrical Safety First.

‘Due to the large amount of energy stored in these batteries, the risk of fire is significantly higher if the battery becomes unstable. 

‘It’s essential that you use a compatible charger, ideally the one that that came with the device and never block any exit ways when charging, the results could be fatal.’

Experts have warned against buying replacement chargers for devices that aren't compatible

Experts have warned against buying replacement chargers for devices that aren't compatible

Experts have warned against buying replacement chargers for devices that aren’t compatible 

London firefighters have put out blazes from faulty e-bikes and e-scooters every two days since the start of this year

London firefighters have put out blazes from faulty e-bikes and e-scooters every two days since the start of this year

London firefighters have put out blazes from faulty e-bikes and e-scooters every two days since the start of this year

What can often compound the problem, campaigners say, is that many e-bike and e-scooter owners charge their devices in areas that risk blocking escape routes, such as a communal hallway or staircase in a block of flats.

More than half of those surveyed (52 per cent) also admitted to charging their device overnight while they are sleeping – which heightens the danger because they have less time to respond if a fire breaks out. 

Just over a quarter (28 per cent ) said they charged their device in a hallway inside their home, whilst more than 1 in 10 (14 percent) do so in their bedroom.

Electrical Safety First recommends charging e-bikes or e-scooters away from vital escape routes — ideally in an outhouse where possible. 

Scott Angus, 32 from London, revealed how he had a lucky escape after a neighbour’s e-bike burst into flames in a communal hallway of a converted Victorian house last year.

He and his partner had to jump out of a second-floor window with their dog after their escape route was blocked. 

‘I was woken up around 1am to the strong smell of carbon. I opened the door and all I could see was a wall of thick black smoke. If that smoke had got inside our flat any sooner, I probably wouldn’t be here,’ Mr Angus said.

Scott Angus, 32 from London, revealed how he had a lucky escape after a neighbour's e-bike burst into flames in a communal hallway of a converted Victorian house last year. He saw burnt battery cells on the driveway outside (pictured) after fleeing the blaze

Scott Angus, 32 from London, revealed how he had a lucky escape after a neighbour's e-bike burst into flames in a communal hallway of a converted Victorian house last year. He saw burnt battery cells on the driveway outside (pictured) after fleeing the blaze

Scott Angus, 32 from London, revealed how he had a lucky escape after a neighbour’s e-bike burst into flames in a communal hallway of a converted Victorian house last year. He saw burnt battery cells on the driveway outside (pictured) after fleeing the blaze

Tragic: Eight people have died in Britain so far this year as a result of e-bike battery fires

Tragic: Eight people have died in Britain so far this year as a result of e-bike battery fires

Tragic: Eight people have died in Britain so far this year as a result of e-bike battery fires

Sofia Duarte, 21, died in a flat fire caused by a converted e-bike battery which burst into flames

Sofia Duarte, 21, died in a flat fire caused by a converted e-bike battery which burst into flames

Sofia Duarte, 21, died in a flat fire caused by a converted e-bike battery which burst into flames

‘An e-bike battery was being charged on the ground floor in the building’s communal hallway caught fire, it blocked our escape route, and we had no way out except for the windows.’

Mr Angus revealed that he and his fellow neighbours had to be rescued by firefighters with ladders.

‘When we got down, all I could see was chaos. The front door to the building had been blasted off. The fire brigade were trying to put the fire out and I could see lots of individual batteries all over the floor. They looked like shotgun cartridges,’ he added.

‘My partner damaged her back when she jumped and she’s had issued with it ever since, it’s impacted her quality of life. 

‘We just feel lucky to have escaped with our lives.’ 

Others have not been so lucky, however.

Eight people have died in Britain so far this year as a result of e-bike battery fires.

On New Years Day, Sofia Duarte was killed when an e-bike in her home burst into flames, whilst a mother and two children lost their lives in Cambridge this year in a fire that is believed to have been caused by a charging e-bike.

This post first appeared on Dailymail.co.uk

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