Posted June 11, 2024

Thermal Runaway: Counterfeit or Knock Off Lithium-Ion Battery Warning: Proper Handling of Overheating Lithium-Ion Batteries

Video from Power Tool Institute details correct procedures.

The Power Tool Institute, the leading organization for power tool safety resources, information, and education, has released a new video demonstrating how to properly handle a battery that’s in thermal runaway.

A lithium-ion battery that is too hot to touch, melting, smoking, or on fire may be in thermal runaway, which can be caused by misusing or abusing the battery, such as by dropping, puncturing, damaging, or exposing the battery to liquids.

Lithium-ion batteries, when purchased by an OEM for their respective tools, are safe. More and more counterfeit and knock off batteries have appeared in the market and can cause serious issues, including fires.

As detailed in the video, the quickest way to cool down and stop an overheating lithium-ion battery is to immerse the battery in a sturdy container filled with water and keep it there for 24 hours. The new video can be viewed at

Before immersing a battery, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t physically touch the battery to move it; instead, use something like a long-handled shovel.
  • Wear PPE to protect eyes and skin.
  • Move the battery at least 15 feet away from combustible materials.
  • If the battery is connected to a tool or charger, don’t try to disconnect it. It’s better to sacrifice those items than risk being injured. Put them in the water as well. Be sure to first unplug the charger from the wall outlet.

It’s important to leave the battery immersed for at least 24 hours so additional cells within the battery don’t re-ignite. Even if you don’t see flames, the thermal runaway may not be over. While one cell is cooling down, a different cell might be heating up. Once it is safe to dispose the battery, never throw it into the trash or a municipal recycling bin. Instead, take it to a local recycling center or place it in a receptacle specifically designed for recycling batteries.

In general, when you take care of your batteries, they will take care of you. However, it’s still important to be aware of proper safety procedures in the event of an emergency like thermal runaway.

For more information and helpful power tool safety tips, visit