Take care when bringing batteries onto airplanes

Associated Press • Mar 30, 2007 at 8:21 AM

WASHINGTON - Are you bringing batteries on a plane? If so, make sure they're carefully packaged.

Two recent fires on airplanes have prompted the Transportation Department to issue a safety advisory for passengers traveling with batteries or battery-powered devices.

The agency says air travelers should keep spare batteries in their original retail packaging or wrap insulating tape around loose batteries to avoid contact with metal objects. The agency said batteries should be packed in carry-on, not checked, luggage. They should also be protected from getting crushed or punctured.

The agency said that a preliminary investigation of a Feb. 10 fire in an overhead baggage compartment on a JetBlue flight indicated one or more loose batteries may have been the source.

On March 18, the agency received a report that a battery overheated or ignited on board an American Airlines plane from Argentina.

In both cases, the fires were extinguished quickly.

The agency said it's working with the Air Line Pilots Association International, in conjunction with the International Federal of Airline Pilots' Associations, to send a similar safety alert to their 60,000 member pilots.

The DOT is also working with manufacturers, laboratories and other government agencies to improve the design and packaging for batteries.

Both the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a trade group that represents battery makers, and the Electrical Safety Foundation International, a nonprofit that promotes electrical safety, support the advisory.

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