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On March 13, 2018, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a recall of about 260,000 Amazon Portable Power Banks. The products may overheat and ignite, posing a risk of fire and burn hazards and injuries.

This is yet another example of a lithium-ion battery safety issue. The Amazon Portable Power Banks are lithium-ion battery chargers/power banks, and like other lithium-ion battery products, have been linked with reports of burns and property damage.

Amazon Recalls Portable Battery Power Banks

Six versions of the Amazon Basics portable battery are involved in the recall, including the following:

  • 16,100 mAh
  • 10,000 mAh
  • 5,600 mAh
  • 2,000 mAh (with micro USB cable)
  • 3,000 mAh
  • 3,000 mAh (with micro USB cable)
Amazon Portable Charger B00LRK8I7O
Model B00LRK8I7O

These power banks are generally black and rectangular, measuring about three inches long by 1.4 inches high. They were sold with or without the micro USB charger cable and a carrying pouch, and have the “AmazonBasics” logo printed on the front.

They were available at Amazon.com, as well as at Amazon Bookstores and Amazon Pop-Up Stores between December 2014 and July 2017.

So far, Amazon has received 53 reports of the power banks overheating in the U.S., with one report of chemical burns and four reports of property damage, including smoke and fire damage.

The products are manufactured by Guoguang Electric Company Limited, out of China, and are distributed by Amazon of Seattle. Amazon has advised consumers to unplug and stop using the products immediately and to contact Amazon for instructions on how to return them for a full refund. Consumers can call toll-free at 855-215-5134, or can check online at Amazon’s website. Amazon has also stated that it will contact all known consumers to warn them of the issue.

Why Do Lithium-Ion Batteries Overheat?

Portable power banks have become more popular as people use their phones, laptops, and tablets for longer periods of time. They can provide that extra boost of power when needed, or when there isn’t a readily available electric outlet nearby.

Like other lithium-ion battery powered products, these power banks carry a risk of overheating. Similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which was recalled because of explosive and smoking issues, they can present safety hazards if they’re not designed or manufactured correctly, or if they are damaged somehow.

Well-made batteries include safety features that can help prevent that “thermal runway” chain reaction that can lead to an explosion or fire. Explosions are relatively rare when you consider how many of these batteries are on the market. Some, however, are lacking the features they need to provide that extra layer of safety.

When you think of battery explosions, you may think of cell phones first, but battery power bank chargers have actually been linked to overheating in the past. In 2014, for example, the CPSC announced the recall of about 172,000 AP Specialties Power Bank Chargers, again due to fire hazards.

To reduce your risk of a power battery bank explosion, look for a quality battery with a UL certification. Keep it away from heat sources, and use only the connection cables provided to link it to your mobile device. Don’t leave it in a hot car, and disconnect it once your device is charged (don’t leave it on a prolonged charge).

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