With more than 100 million passengers flying to and from their destinations in 2016, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta has been the busiest airport in the world for more than two decades. Funneling that many people into one location and then segmenting hundreds of them into enclosed, pressurized spaces for hours at a time thousands of feet in the air creates unique fire and life safety needs.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has done a tremendous job setting safety and security standards for our nation’s aviation industry to keep passengers and employees safe on the air and on the ground. But travelers have begun flying with items that could pose potential fire risks and it has presented challenges to regulators who are seeking to keep up with the rapidly evolving technology of the marketplace.

The biggest risk currently facing air travel is lithium-ion batteries. In recent years, defective, overused, and overcharged lithium-ion batteries have resulted in combustion and fires in consumer products such as laptops, hoverboards, Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones, and e-cigarettes – leading to serious injuries and deaths. Seeing the risk these fires and combustions could pose in the airplane setting, many airlines and/or the FAA have banned hoverboards and Samsung Galaxy Note7s on flights.

There has been a rising number of incidences of lithium-ion battery fires on planes but, thankfully, there have been no injuries or compromising damage to aircraft to date. The best fire prevention tool for these new fire and life safety risks is educated, responsible travelers. So, before you take to the skies for your last summer vacation or the holiday seasons, review this list of safety tips for your lithium-ion battery-powered devices:

  1. Avoid bringing a lithium-ion battery that appears to be damaged, warped, or is hot on to any aircraft.
  2. Tape or protect all electrical terminals to prevent the battery from contacting stray metal devices and short circuiting.
  3. Avoid storing any device containing lithium-ion batteries or any spare batteries in checked luggage; keep them in your carry-on luggage so that any potential smoke or fire will be noticed and dealt with quickly.
  4. If you notice your lithium-ion battery-powered device heating up or smoking, notify the flight crew immediately.
  5. Never touch, handle, or move a burning lithium-ion battery without protective measures, as it can cause serious injury and spread dangerous chemicals.

Airlines and manufacturers are working to develop new ways to safely handle these risks and more, but every traveler has the responsibility to do their part to keep our airways safe. For more of the latest news and fire & life safety tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog.