The Transportation Department has issued new rules, effective Jan. 1, governing transportation of the lithium batteries used to power a range of electronic devices, including portable computers, cell phones, personal digital assistants and cameras.
The department has advised travelers that they can no longer pack spare lithium batteries in their checked baggage, and instead must put them in carry-on luggage. And, the batteries should be in their original retail packaging, have their tips covered by electrical tape or be in a clear plastic bag.
Lithium batteries are considered hazardous materials because they can overheat and ignite under certain conditions. Safety tests conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration have found that aircraft cargo fire suppression systems would not be capable of putting out a fire if a shipment of nonrechargeable lithium batteries were ignited during a flight.
Doing something as simple as keeping a spare battery in its original packaging or a reclosable plastic bag will prevent unintentional short-circuiting and fires.
The key issue is to keep batteries out of checked baggage.
(Courtesy of Bob Brewin)