Fire & Emergency New Zealand

Practising fire safety with water-damaged battery powered devices

Practising fire safety with water-damaged battery powered devices

Fire and Emergency New Zealand encourages people in the Hawke’s Bay to remain vigilant and practise fire safety after a power outage or if your battery powered devices have been damaged by floodwater.

District Manager Glen Varcoe says it’s important to be aware of the additional fire risks in your home.

"If you have devices that have come in contact with water, we encourage you to dispose of these correctly to avoid someone else picking them up and using them," he says.

Rubbish disposal advice: Rubbish & Recycling - Cyclone Gabrielle Update | Hastings District Council (

"Water and electricity don’t mix well causing fires to start. If safe to do so, isolate your mains power. Mud deposits and debris can also conduct electricity, making premises and part of the surrounding area highly dangerous both during and after flooding."

Glen Varcoe says there are risks to charging any battery powered device that has been damaged by water, particularly those containing lithium-ion batteries.

"Please do not try to charge any devices that have been in water. This includes laptops, phones, e-scooters and power tools.

"Trying to charge devices that have been in water increases the risk of a spark or explosion occurring, particularly in lithium-ion batteries where the thermal runaway can cause the device to overheat and combust," he says.

Glen Varcoe also encourages homeowners whose power has come back on to be mindful of the switches that have been left on since Monday night.

"Switch off the electricity supply at the fuse box, if it is safe to do so. If there is evidence of water inside the fuse box or if there are signs of arcing or overheating, don’t switch it on and seek professional advice," he says.

"Before you attempt to switch the power back on, particularly if your house was impacted by the floodwater, if you can, get it checked by a licensed electrician," he says.

"The same advice applies to solar panels; we encourage you to get a licenced electrician to inspect them."

With many displaced families staying with friends and family across the Hawke’s Bay, it’s important that everyone is well protected from fire risks.

"Make sure you have working smoke alarms in every room that someone is sleeping in, and that everyone in the household is aware of your escape plan and safe meeting place," he says.

"It’s important we all stay safe during these incredibly difficult times. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by this devastating cyclone. Kia kaha Hawke’s Bay."

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