“House Fires Caused By Storage of 9 Volt, AA Batteries In Junk Drawers & Other Places Rising”

* If You Know of a Fire Incident in Your Town Caused by 9 Volt, AA or AAA Battery Storage in a Home, Please Note it in the comments Section of this Post! Thank You!

Click here for the recent Hastings, Nebraska House Fire on January 16, 2017

If you are storing loose 9 volt or AA or other batteries in a kitchen drawer or a “junk” drawer in your home, watch how you store them. Above all don’t store them loose and rolling around with other metal items, like small tools, paper clips, nails and more of the lovely mix of things we keep in our junk drawers. You also don’t want them loose and rolling around in other items like a camera case, luggage, etc.

All you need to have happened is for a metal object like steel wool or a paper clip short out across the top of a 9-volt battery and ignite paper or other easily ignited materials and you’ll have a potential disaster in your home. As indicated in the YouTube Video below, it doesn’t take much to heat a metallic object or cause a spark in order to start a fire. *Please Do Not Do This At Home*

What to do with a 9 Volt Battery

I teach safety to the public, common sense tells most of us what to do in situations that could become life threatening. I speak to 50-60 people at a time about fire safety in the home on a monthly basis. I get the same reaction from every group when I hold up a 9-volt battery and announce that it is a fire hazard and it could burn down your house.

They all kinda look at me funny, as if to ask, “Did you just say a 9-volt battery could burn down my house?” That look is almost comical.

Q: Where do you store your batteries?

A: Throw them in  in a “junk” drawer

I then hold up a brillo pad. (just one example)

Q: What do you do with the batteries when you are done with them?

A: Throw them in the trash.

A 9-volt battery (see video) is a fire hazard because the positive and negative posts are on top, right next to one another. If this comes in contact with anything metal (aluminum foil, brillo, etc…) it will spark, and if there is a fuel for this spark you will have a fire. (fire needs heat, fuel and oxygen to burn) To test this theory, put a 9-volt battery or a couple of AA batteries in your pocket with some loose change or your key chain full of keys, (use common sense) this will bring on a whole new meaning to the words, Hot Pants.

When you dispose of this type of battery (positive and negative on top) Make sure it is safely wrapped in electrical tape or something to keep it separated from anything else that may come in contact with it. A small box or zip lock bag if kept in a junk drawer should suffice.  I have seen in some stores now that the manufacturers are now packaging them with plastic caps. If you need to purchase a 9-volt battery try to find those that are packaged in this manner.

Try to be just as diligent with AA or AAA batteries. Keep them in their original packaging if stored in a “junk drawer”. Don’t let them roll around freely with all the other wonderful miscellaneous items we unknowingly toss in the drawer and don’t think twice about it.

 

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NFPA Journal: NHSTA Electric Vehicle Guidelines

 

 

Elemental Questions
As lithium-ion battery use increases, so do the concerns related to the fire-safety hazards of these devices. Through a series of research efforts and partnerships, NFPA is analyzing storage and safety issues surrounding the power source fueling hundreds of millions of devices — from iPhones to electric vehicles — worldwide.

NFPA Journal®, March/April 2012

By Fred Durso, Jr.

On a November evening in 2009, residents of Trail, British Columbia, were jolted by explosions that some people thought were part of a fireworks display. The bursts were actually the result of a fire at nearby Toxco Inc., a battery recycling facility that houses used lithium-ion batteries that previously powered an array of cell phones, laptops, and electric vehicles.

The explosions intensified as the fire ripped through the battery discharge building, and flaming projectiles from a bunker filled with batteries caused the fire to spread to the adjoining district recycling facility. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the fire was so intense that firefighters could only attempt to contain the blaze for several hours before letting it burn out. Since lithium is highly reactive to water, it was feared that attempts to douse the flames might have intensified the blaze. While there were no injuries or deaths, the fire destroyed the battery discharge building. A cause was never identified, but officials speculated that the fire was caused by an internal short in one of the stored batteries.

Incidents like the Toxco fire have underscored the flammability and combustibility hazards associated with lithium-ion batteries. Concerns related to the protection of large quantities of batteries in storage settings against potential fires are expected to rise as more technologies embrace this popular power source. Market projections indicate that lithium-ion battery use is growing at about 20 percent per year, replacing other battery chemistries due to the superior makeup and power provided by lithium-ion batteries. Cabot, a global performance materials company, reports that battery makers sold about $8 billion of lithium-ion batteries globally last year. By 2020, Cabot says, that number is expected to increase to more than $18 billion.

Among the many industries looking to this emerging source of power is the auto industry, which has incorporated lithium-ion technology into its latest crop of electric vehicles (EVs). President Barack Obama has pledged to have a million EVs on U.S. roadways by 2015, a goal supported by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who recently said the country has a “good shot” of attaining this target. But the battery technology used in these vehicles recently came under scrutiny when a Chevrolet Volt caught fire weeks after a crash test performed as part of a new-vehicle evaluation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The incident prompted an NHTSA investigation as well as a congressional hearing, where politicians grilled NHTSA and General Motors officials on the vehicle’s safety, as well as on the timing of the NHTSA study. (For more on the NHTSA study, see “Crash + Burn.”)

As dialogue on battery safety continues, NFPA is working with government agencies, insurers, and car manufacturers to address a national issue of emergency responder and consumer safety, and is offering its input and expertise to address the potential risks. The Fire Protection Research Foundation has initiated a study to identify the hazards, research gaps, and best suppression methods for batteries in storage settings. NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training Project continues to educate the emergency responder and law enforcement communities on the safe handling of these batteries. Staff members have worked with NHTSA to develop guidelines for emergency responders on handling fires involving EVs and hybrid-electric vehicles.

“NFPA is uniquely situated to assist NHTSA and America’s responders in looking at the challenges posed by the next generation of vehicles,” says Ken Willette, NFPA division manager of Public Fire Protection. “We can draw from our technical expertise to provide best practices when responding to incidents involving these cars. If you add the Foundation’s efforts in examining lithium-ion battery storage practices and extinguishing fires involving these battery packs, NFPA was the right choice to support NHTSA’s work.”

The storage challenge
Lithium-ion batteries pack more energy per volume than other rechargeable battery chemistries — such as the notoriously weighty lead-acid batteries traditionally used in certain cars — and have resulted in lighter and sleeker designs for consumer electronics. (See “Staying Energized” for a primer on the science of lithium-ion batteries.) The appeal of this battery type extends beyond its size and power, since these power sources are able to maintain the bulk of their charge for months at a time when not in use and typically require minimal maintenance.

But the technology also comes with its own hazards. Late last year, retailer Best Buy and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled battery cases made for specific Apple iPhones following incidents of battery overheating that burned more than a dozen users. Tests on the battery packs in the Chevrolet Volt, General Motors’ EV that also relies on a gasoline generator for power once the lithium-ion battery pack is discharged, also prompted fires, though no incidents of Volt fires on roadways have been documented.

Addressing the potential fire hazards related to this technology, the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s Property Insurance Research Group (PIRG) initiated the Lithium-Ion Battery Storage Protection Project last year to address potential fire risks involving these batteries in bulk storage and distribution settings. “What we’re seeing is an emerging issue,” says Richard Gallagher, line of business director–property for Zurich Services Corporation Risk Engineering and a PIRG member. “We realized that we’re going to see warehouses filled with these batteries, but we really don’t know how to protect them. Nowhere is there guidance whatsoever to direct a building owner on how to protect this commodity.”

The project’s first phase was a literature review commissioned last year by the Foundation that identified these gaps in fire protection and assessed battery hazards. Among the hazard issues addressed in the final report, Lithium-Ion Batteries Hazard and Use Assessment, was the battery’s makeup, particularly its high energy density and flammable solvent that aids ion movement in battery cells during charging. The report also identified the rare, yet potentially dangerous, circumstances leading to battery failure, including poor cell design or defects leading to short circuits, cell manufacturing flaws, external abuse of cells, and charging inadequacies. The rapid self-heating of a cell, known as “thermal runaway,” is what the report terms an “energetic failure” that may cause the electrolyte to combust, potentially leading to a fire spreading to other battery cells or venting of potentially flammable vapors.

While there have been numerous studies conducted on small quantities of cells and small battery packs, little is known about the fire hazards of thermal runaway reactions, how these batteries burn in large quantities, or what suppression tactics are most effective. “This is a commodity that’s become ubiquitous, and the fact that it’s become ubiquitous before we’ve resolved these kinds of issues tell how well [lithium-ion batteries] work,” says Celina Mikolajczak, senior managing engineer with Exponent, the engineering and scientific consulting firm that developed the research report for the Foundation. “They have been in the marketplace for about 20 years, originally in small volumes. As more cells are being shipped and more people use them, we certainly want to be aware of the associated risks, especially as bigger batteries are developed and we contemplate greener technologies.”

PIRG met last August at the Foundation’s Lithium-Ion Battery Storage Hazard Assessment Workshop in Baltimore to discuss findings from the Foundation’s report and remaining gaps in fire hazard and suppression research. The workshop’s “general battery storage” subgroup agreed that full-scale fire tests in these settings would determine the appropriate containment methods.

Heeding this advice, PIRG will begin testing this year as part of the second phase of its research project, which also includes determining the appropriate fire protection commodity classification for lithium-ion batteries. Exponent has already identified various commodity types and their challenges relative to bulk storage protection. PIRG has condensed its research list to two particular commodity types: small-format battery packs, and cells packed in large modules that when combined form EV batteries. PIRG will share the commodity classifications and testing results with NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, technical committees in order to aid the development of provisions related to lithium-ion battery storage. “Once the nature of the commodity is understood, the next step is to identify compatible fire extinguishing agents and design guidelines that the NFPA 13 committees can use to fill the current voids,” says Gallagher.

The EV challenge
Lithium-ion car batteries received their fair share of attention over the past year. NHTSA, which occasionally assesses vehicles that incorporate new technology, initiated a series of tests on EVs last year. According to the agency’s Chevrolet Volt Battery Incident Overview Report published in January, a crash test in May involving the Volt resulted in the leakage of battery coolant, damage to some of the battery’s cells, and an electric short that precipitated a fire three weeks after the crash.

During another round of tests in November, batteries began to smoke and emit sparks, while another caught fire a week after the tests. Though NHTSA isn’t aware of any roadway crashes resulting in EV battery fires, it opened a defect investigation on the Volt on November 25 to further analyze the findings. A month later, GM proposed several modifications to the Volt, including the strengthening of the car’s structure to further protect the battery pack during a collision and the addition of a sensor to monitor coolant levels. The upgrades will be applied to vehicles in production, as well as to the more than 8,000 Volts already on the road.

Also in November, NHTSA contacted NFPA to help assemble a series of interim guidelines for emergency responders, tow truck operators, consumers, and storage facilities to consider in the event of an EV or hybrid-electric vehicle fire. Staff members and consultants with NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training Project and Public Fire Protection Division, who are well versed on handling various hazardous materials and response procedures, collaborated for the new project. NFPA is incorporating the interim guidelines into its EV training project, which instructs emergency responders on the growing fleet of EVs and related hazards through a series of online and classroom trainings.

“I’d compare NFPA’s role in developing the interim guidelines to a fire ground commander calling in a specialty team to assist with a challenging situation,” says NFPA’s Willette. “NHSTA called us to provide technical guidance and insight into the development of the interim guidelines. The NFPA team responded, with all members focusing on their tasks until the mission was accomplished.” With that input, Willette says, NHSTA was able to draft the interim guidelines.

Following the creation of the guidelines and structural safeguards for the Volt, NHTSA concluded its investigation in January. “NHTSA does not believe that the Chevy Volt or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles,” the agency said in a statement. (NFPA statistics indicate that in 2010 there were roughly 184,000 highway vehicle fires, nearly all of them in gasoline-powered vehicles, that resulted in 285 deaths.) “The agency expects this guidance will help inform the ongoing work by NFPA, the Department of Energy, and vehicle manufacturers to educate the emergency response community, law enforcement officers, and others about electric vehicles.”

The manner in which NHTSA responded to the series of fires involving the Volt perplexed some politicians. A subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing in January with NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, along with Dan Akerson, General Motor’s chairman and chief executive officer, to question NHTSA on why it waited six months after the initial battery fire to launch an official investigation. The proceedings were at times acrimonious. “Your agency dropped the ball on this,” U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican and committee member, said to Strickland at the hearing, according to the Grand Rapids Press. “For me, it comes down to taxpayer dollars being used to subsidize a product that this administration wants to go forward.”

Strickland acknowledged the safety of the Volt and pointed out that there had been no on-the-road incidences of battery fires. He also testified that engineers used that time to meticulously analyze the cause of the fires. Had there been a public safety concern, Strickland said, NHTSA would have brought the issue to light sooner.

Gregory Cade, NFPA division director of Government Affairs, attended the hearing and noted that both Strickland and Akerson complimented NFPA for its involvement in developing the interim guidelines and on its collaboration with GM on aspects of NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training Project. “The dilemma is that GM is only one carmaker using one battery technology,” says Cade. “We’ve got to continue to reach out to other car and battery manufacturers. They’re not all using the same technology.”

NFPA has also continued expanding its EV training to other interested parties. The Department of Energy, which had initially awarded NFPA a $4.4 million grant in 2010 for its EV training project, recently extended participation to EMS and law enforcement officials. More than 15,000 people have already registered for an online training course featuring electrical and safety information on the Volt. The course complements the project’s “train the trainer” classroom courses attended by about 800 fire service professionals in 20 states. Anticipated for release this year is a reference guide that instructs emergency responders on identifying all makes and models of hybrid cars and EVs as well as how to safely respond to the vehicles in an emergency.

The training developments underscore NFPA’s role as the authority on EV battery safety, says Andrew Klock, senior project manager for the EV Safety Training Project. “The training is exceeding our expectations,” he says. “The attendance across the country has been much better than we anticipated. We thought we would have 45 fire service trainers in each state taking the course. In many states, we’re pushing over 100. The EV Safety Training Project website is also becoming the place where the emergency responder community is getting their hybrid and EV safety information.”

Looking ahead, the Foundation is partnering with the automotive industry and the Department of Energy (DOE) this year to develop best practices for the safe handling and disposal of damaged automotive batteries by emergency responders. The project is yet another aspect of the larger effort to assess and address the fire protection strategies of this rapidly emerging technology.

“EV battery safety represents a special challenge as this technology is in a rapid state of evolution,” says Kathleen Almand, the Foundation’s executive director. “Both NFPA and the Foundation have been proactively addressing many new energy-related technologies, from solar panels, to biofuel safety, to electric safety aspects of plug-in EVs to ensure that NFPA standards are appropriately addressing all of these emerging issues.”


Fred Durso, Jr. is staff writer for NFPA Journal.

House Fires Caused By Storage of 9 Volt Batteries In Junk Drawers Rising

* If You Know of  a Fire Incident in Your Town Caused by 9 Volt, AA or AAA Battery Storage in a Home, Please Note it in the comments Section of this Post! Thank You!

If you are storing loose 9 volt or AA or other batteries in a kitchen drawer or a “junk” drawer in your home, watch how you store them. Above all don’t store them loose and rolling around with other metal, glues and more of the lovely mix of things we keep in our junk drawers.

All you need to have happen is for a metal object like steel wool or a paper clip short out across the top of a 9 volt battery and ignite paper or other easily ignited materials and you’ll have a potential disaster in your home. As indicated on the YouTube Video below, it doesn’t take much to heat a metallic object or cause a spark in order to start a fire. *Please Do Not Do This At Home*

What to do with a 9 Volt Battery

I teach  safety to the public, common sense tells most of us what to do in situations that could become life threatening. I speak to 50-60 people at a time about fire safety in the home on a monthly basis. I get the same reaction from every group when I hold up a 9 volt battery and announce that it is a fire hazard and it could burn down your house.

They all kinda look at me funny, as if to ask, “Did you just say a 9 volt battery could burn down my house?” That look is almost comical.

Q: Where do you store your batteries?

A: Throw them in  in a “junk” drawer

I then hold up a brillo pad. (just one example)

Q: What do you do with the batteries when you are done with them?

A: Throw them in the trash.

A 9 volt battery (see video) is a fire hazard because the positive and negative posts are on top, right next to one another. If this comes in contact with anything metal (aluminum foil, brillo, etc…) it will spark, and if there is a fuel for this spark you will have a fire. (fire needs heat, fuel and oxygen to burn) To test this theory, put a 9 volt battery or a couple of AA batteries in your pocket with some loose change or your key chain full of keys, (use common sense) this will bring on a whole new meaning to the words, Hot Pants.

When you dispose of this type of battery (positive and negative on top) Make sure it is safely wrapped in electrical tape or something to keep it separated from anything else that may come in contact with it. A small box or ziplock bag if kept in a junk drawer should suffice.  I have seen in some stores now that the manufacturers are now packaging them with plastic caps. If you need to purchase a 9 volt battery try to find those that are packaged in this manner.

Try to be just as diligent with AA or AAA batteries. Keep them in their original packaging if stored in a “junk drawer”. Don’t let them roll around freely with all the other wonderful miscellaneous items we unknowingly toss in the drawer and don’t think twice about it. Below are some additional tips in how to protect your kitchen from fire!

See An Updated Post on this Subject Here:https://ehssafetynews.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/updated-house-fires-caused-by-storage-of-9-volt-aa-batteries-on-the-rise/

How to Protect Your Kitchen from Fire

By Gilbert Nichols, eHow Member
Fire Station Personnel are vital to every citizen's well being!

Fire can strike at any moment. It can devastate whole families and destroy years of memories and possessions. Fire takes and gives nothing back.

Fire Prevention includes having a plan how to deal with it and how to stay safe. Kitchen fires are the most common of all house fires because of so many contributing factors. In this article, we will touch on what you need and must have in order to protect your kitchen from fire.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Instructions

Things You’ll Need:

  • Common Sense
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Smoke Detector – Photoelectric
  • Fire Detector – Clanging Bell
  • Fire Escape Plan
  • Cooperation by all in the house
  1. 1

    This household practices a fire drill every month!

    This household practices a fire drill every month!

    Fire safety in the kitchen is everybody’s responsibility, not just the main user of the kitchen. Therefore, in order to best protect your kitchen from fire, you must have an order how to do so. Smoke alarms are a must, if they are the right kind. Everybody can relate to the smoke alarm that goes off whenever you burn toast and you fan the smoke away from the detector so it will shut off. Eventually, you remove the batteries and sometimes forget to put them back in.

    The best detector for the kitchen is the bell detector. It sounds just like the school bell and is marketed in a fire resistant metal shell. It has a metal band wound by a key and will ring at 89 decibel or better for five minutes. See Resources for where to get them.

  2. 2

    A fire safety plan must be high priority and practiced monthly regardless of personal feelings. If we require schools to practice them often, why not families? Your plan should show where fire extinguishers are as well as multiple exits. For the kitchen, it would be good to know where to get out in the event a fire starts that is too big to handle.

  3. 3

    Dry chemical fire extinguishers work on most types of fires in the home.

    Dry chemical fire extinguishers work on most types of fires in the home.

    Fire extinguishers are only as good as the person handling them. Get to know which kind is best for your particular need. In the kitchen, an all-purpose or ABC fire extinguisher is best.

    A good rule of thumb with ABC extinguishers is to shake them twice or three times a year to loosen up the powder inside. The CO2 powder can clump over time and become useless. It should be placed in a cabinet or wall mounted in a central location in the kitchen for easy access.

  4. 4

    Keep out of reach of children and open flame.

    Keep out of reach of children and open flame.

    Remove combustibles away from open heat or flame. Paper plates, menus and cookbooks should not be near flames or hot surfaces. Also, keep flour and powdered coffee creamers away as they can EXPLODE if too close or dropped onto fire.

  5. 5

    Lids should make a proper seal to be effective.

    Lids should make a proper seal to be effective.

    Keep lids to pans close at hand to tightly fit over skillets in the event of a stove top fire. Although baking soda has been known to work, the best thing to do is cover the fire with a lid. Fire needs three ingredients: fuel, heat and oxygen. In the event of a fire, if you can remove any one of these three ingredients, you will eliminate your fire.

    It is important to note that if the fire is too much involved, get out of the house and call the fire department. Regardless whether you get all the fire out that you can see, if it had gotten into the ceiling where you cannot see it can smolder and erupt with a vengeance.

  6. 6

    Kitchen fires have occurred from faulty old coffee makers

    Kitchen fires have occurred from faulty old coffee makers

    Unplug unused counter top items, such as toasters, coffee makers and other electrical devices. At one time, old coffee makers were known to short out, causing scores of house fires nationwide.

    In addition to this, overloaded outlets are fires waiting to happen. Spread out your devices and consider stepping up your electrical circuits to handle more amperage.

  7. 7

    Check under your refrigerator for dust buildup and clean accordingly. Dust can ignite with a spark and cause a fire. Keep any loose papers and other items that can “fuel” a fire away. The same holds true for the fans over many stoves. The filter screen can draw in household dust and a floating spark could set it on fire.

  8. 8

    VITAL STEP! DO NOT MISS THIS! Your “junk” drawers are often found in the kitchen where spare batteries, cords and stuff is kept. Fires have often been linked to junk drawers in houses where exposed 9-volt batteries came into contact with steel wool. THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!!!

    Try this outside with supervision only: take a piece of steel wool and a nine volt battery. Hold the wool against both terminals of the battery at the same time and prepare to drop the wool onto a cement pavement. This can happen in your kitchen, in your junk drawer, with or without you being nearby. This can also happen in the trash can.

  9. 9

    1906 Fire Service in Old Sacramento, California

    1906 Fire Service in Old Sacramento, California

    Practice these steps and drill with everyone who stays overnight with you. Request your children and their friends to be conscious of this when away from home. Rehearse with your siblings, parents, grand parents and neighbors. Invite members of the local fire department to come out and hold a neighborhood fire training. Make it a block safety party and invite the media.

Read more: How to Protect Your Kitchen from Fire | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_4890067_protect-kitchen-fire.html#ixzz0xNo4XZf0

Do Water and Electric Cars Mix? A Look at the Safety Standards & Fire Service Response to Emergencies

Download  “Hybrid Car Emergency Response PDF Training”  File Here: Fire – EMS Electric or Hybrid Car Extrication and Fire Safety

By Pamela Coyle ~Coyle on Cars

We all remember parental warnings about mixing electricity and water. Those cautions are reinforced, at least in my case, by watching entirely too many accidental or homicidal death scenes on television that involve a small electric appliance and a bath, or in high-end settings, a hot tub.

Cars and water don’t mix well. I’ve managed to avoid driving through high floodwaters in both New Orleans and Nashville, but I’ve seen the results for those less fortunate. Inundated with cool water, hot engine blocks crack. The 12-volt electrical systems freak out. People get injured or killed – but by the water, not the electricity. And the carpet and upholstery never, ever recover.

The 2010 hurricane and flood season is upon us. The U.S. rollout of some high-profile EVs is nigh. And a question nags at me: What about the water?

An electric vehicle is not a toaster. Toasters, at least the ones we use at our house, do not have sophisticated automatic shut-off and safety systems, and EVs hitting the U.S. market later this year will. Keith Schultz, GM’s senior manager of Global Vehicle High Voltage Electric & Battery Safety, and Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan Americas, talked to me about electric power systems in the Volt and the Leaf, respectively.

The high-voltage wiring is under the car and not within the passenger cabin. In general, an impact automatically shuts down the high-voltage system that powers the car. Air bag deployment shuts it down. The battery pack itself is completely sealed. Any loss of isolation within the electrical system shuts it down. A manual shut-off exists for first responders who may worry that the juice is still flowing.

Both General Motors and Nissan are providing information and training to emergency personnel in their EV target markets. The Volt training begins next month in Chicago during the International Association of Fire Chiefs Fire-Rescue International Conference.

Although the Volt has a small internal combustion engine that keeps the battery charged longer, both it and the Leaf incorporate high-voltage power that is engineered differently than the familiar vehicle 12-volt batteries that power the lights, stereo and other auxiliary systems.

A jolt from a 12-volt can give you a bad buzz. An electric shock from a damaged high-voltage EV can kill, or can ignite stray gasoline. A regular car battery produces shocks because it is not a closed system and is grounded in the vehicle structure itself. In an EV, the electrical system is isolated and self-contained in its own circuit. “Any loss of isolation, the battery sucks down and the control system will open the main contactors and contain the energy in the battery pack,” Mr. Schultz says. “If there is a crash, sensors also instruct the computer to open main contactors.”

These cars also have manual electric system shut-offs. In the Volt, a module attached to the battery pack is pulled out and separated. Access to a similar manual disconnect in the Leaf is through a panel in the floor, under a piece of carpet.

Mr. Perry of Nissan describes it as “three-layer protection.” The charging port has similar safeguards. “If damage to the port, then no power,” he says. And all major EV manufacturers have agreed to use a standard plug port.

High-voltage wiring also looks different. It is orange. This is not an arbitrary designer choice. Because electric vehicles are, well, electric, they must conform to electrical industry standards for wiring, and those rules dictate orange wrapping for the high-voltage stuff.

Gas-electric hybrids already follow these rules and carry some mighty powerful battery packs, ranging from about 150 to more than 300 volts of direct current. The danger zone for DC power can be as low as 55 to 60 volts, compared to 110 volts for alternating current.

EMTs, paramedics and firefighters are trained to recognize orange as high voltage. Should they need to cut the wires, labels with helpful icons that include a red fire helmet and pliers point the way in the Volt. The cut points also are wrapped in bright yellow tape.

EVs will face the same federal standards for crash testing, and the manufacturers have put the battery packs through some special ordeals to test their integrity. At Nissan, for example, engineers have dumped the battery pack into swimming pools, frozen it and hit it with high-pressure hoses, Mr. Perry says.

Safety is not a frivolous concern, and countering consumer misperceptions and wariness about new EV technology is part of the industry’s challenge. “A lot of myths out there we are trying to dispel up front so we can get ahead of it,” Mr. Schultz says.

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