Traveling With Batteries

If you are traveling with batteries, especially on a plane, make certain that they are installed in your device or that you carefully package them.

Almost everyone travels with some type of electronic device with installed batteries.

These items include cell phones, cameras, notebook computers, camcorders, various devices for entertainment, equipment needed for medical reasons, battery operated shavers and other personal hygiene devices, and so forth.

Of course it is permissible and safe to take battery operated devices on a plane as long as they are safely packaged.

As per Federal regulations, "airline passengers who carry batteries or electrical devices in carry-on or checked baggage are responsible for ensuring appropriate steps are taken to protect against dangerous levels of heat that can be generated by inadvertent activation or short-circuiting of these devices while in transportation".

Usually there is no problem when you travel with batteries that are installed in your device because the terminals are insulated (protected) from items that may contact them and cause short-circuiting.

Spare batteries however require that you package them to prevent short-circuiting and unintentional activation. There have been reports of fires starting as a result of batteries overheating or igniting

It is recommended by the Department of Transportation that you pack spare batteries in carry-on baggage.

Potential fires are easier to detect in the passenger compartment of an airplane and flight crews have fire extinguishers in the event of a fire involving batteries.

Batteries are designed to generate an electrical current and transmit power through terminals made of a conductive metal.

The best way to effectively isolate spare batteries from contact with each other and other objects is to transport them in the original package.

When you purchase batteries from retail stores they are already packaged in plastic and cardboard intended for transportation.

If you are traveling with batteries not in the original packaging you should take precaution to place each battery in a separate plastic bag or package.

For example, a freezer bag or sturdy resealable plastic or sandwich bag will do the trick.

In addition, using insulating tape (such as electrical tape) to cover the battery terminals will also prevent unintentional contact with metallic objects such as keys, coins, jewelry, and other batteries.

It is recommended that you use both of the above methods (in combination) when traveling with batteries that have sharp or protruding terminals, such as 9-volt batteries.

Also you should note that there have been fires of notebook computers caused by defective lithium ion batteries.

Lithium ion, lithium metal, nickel cadmium, and nickel metal-hydride batteries can generate large amounts of heat when short-circuited.

Major notebook computer manufacturers have recalled lithium ion batteries because of fires and overheating due to production defects.

Always engage the trigger lock when traveling with batteries installed in cordless power tools.

You should lock any device that has a locking mechanism and you should travel with tools in their case.

If you need additional information you can contact:

Hazardous Materials Information Center, Office of Hazardous Materials Standards, PHMSA, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590

Telephone: (202) 366-4488 or (800) 467-4922


Back to main page - Travel Safety Tips

See other pages on safety.

Cruise Safety

Hotel Safety

Traveling with Batteries

Safety Tips before Leaving Home

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