Two mobility scooters were burnt in a fire yesterday at Bedok. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
The scooters were left in the corridor outside the user's house, and were not turned on or charging, when they started burning spontaneously.
Lithium batteries don't burn spontaneously unless they have been damaged previously. This user could have driven his scooter in the rain, which led to an accumulation of water in his battery, leading to a short circuit.
Also, his batteries were about 2 year old, never been changed. Some cells in the battery may become defective, got bloated, and ruptured their thin casing, and the leaked electrolyte causes a short circuit.
So far the authorities have focused a lot on the chargers and the charging habits of the users e.g. don't charge overnight. But they have failed to address the usage and maintenance habits.
From this incident, we can draw 3 important lessons:
1. Do not ride in the rain. We can never emphasize this enough, but there are still users who do that. Unfortunately, some elderly people are very stubborn, and still do it despite our advise not to do so,
2. Check your battery regularly for any signs of bloating. If the battery surface is supposed to be flat, and it seems to be bulging slightly, change them immediately! Do not wait!
And please dispose of your old battery safely at an e-waste recycling point. National Environment Agency (NEA) has a good list of such places available on their website:
3. If portability is not required, do not buy mobility scooters that use lithium batteries. Buy a those that use lead-acid batteries from a traditional personal mobility aid (PMA) seller like Falcon Mobility, and not those 3-wheeled scooters using lithium batteries being sold by some e-scooter sellers.
Lead acid batteries are much more stable. Lead is a very inert metal, while lithium is much more explosive. Lead acid batteries have been used on mobility scooters for decades before e-scooters became popular, and they have never caused any fire.
The following scooters from Falcon Mobility use lead acid batteries:
- Budget-Lite 4-Wheeled Mobility Scooter
- Spitfire Scout 3-Wheeled Mobility Scooter
- Spitfire Scout 4-Wheeled Mobility Scooter
- Phoenix HD 3-Wheeled Mobility Scooter
- Phoenix HD 4-Wheeled Mobility Scooter
- Buggy 4-Wheeled Mobility Scooter
To view the scooters, please visit our office. Address and opening hours are listed under the Contact Us tab.