What Happens To Electric Car Batteries In A Crash?


If you are driving a car on the road, there is a risk that you can get into a crash. Pretty much everyone who drives regularly will get into a crash at some point. While these crashes are often small and pose little risk to the drivers, there are also cases where crashes can be fatal or lead to life-changing physical problems.

If you crash in an electric car, what could happen? Crashes in electric cars can lead to both fires and explosions from the electric battery. While these events are rare due to safety measures put into place, they have and can occur in a crash. As of now, emergency responders are learning about better and more effective ways to stop more damage from happening.

Nobody wants to get into a wreck. You may have somewhere you need to be and then you get into a wreck. Even in a very minor wreck, you now have to exchange insurance information with the other party. If your car is no longer drivable, you will likely be there for a while as you wait for a tow truck to pick up your vehicle. You will also likely have the police show up to redirect traffic. If the crash is extremely severe, you and the other party can be taken to the hospital.

Even once all of that chaos subsides, there is still a lot of work to do. You will likely have dozens of phone calls between your insurance company and the insurance company of the other party in the accident. If your car needs to be repaired, you will have to get it taken to a body shop or to a mechanic. You may even need extended medical care or physical therapy. If you are the responsible party in the crash, you will also likely have to deal with increased insurance rates and even have to pay fines for causing the accident.

As you can tell and probably already know, there is nothing fun about getting into an accident. One thing you don’t want to have to worry about in an accident is your car putting you and others at an even higher risk. Electric cars can be scary due to the enormous amount of energy stored inside their batteries. Let’s dive in a little further to discuss how dangerous electric cars can be in accidents.

What Happens To The Battery Upon Impact?

So, what exactly makes a lithium-ion battery dangerous? First off would be that these batteries contain liquid electrolytes throughout the battery pack. These electrolytes can catch fire when at high temperatures. If your car were to be subjected to a large external force (for example, your car gets into a crash), this can cause these electrolytes to leak.

These leaks and damages can lead to overheating as a result of short circuits or from external temperatures. Once the electrolyte is exposed to high temperatures, it will ignite. Unfortunately, in the case of a fire, electric car batteries can store a lot of charge. As a result, an electric car fire can last for several hours or even days. Even once the fire appears to be put out, it can reignite and continue to burn.

While this may sound severe, do keep in mind that these fires are extremely rare. A properly operating battery and battery management system will prevent a fire from occurring. When components get damaged, that is when you become at risk for a fire. Generally, this is a result of a crash.

What Dangers Does The Battery Pose To The Individuals In The Accident?

So, what dangers do these batteries pose to you and those in the car with you? First off, is the risk of being burned. The battery can erupt flames from the battery which can burn you extremely badly. In addition, they will likely ignite other components on the vehicle. If you don’t get away from the vehicle quick enough, you could be trapped in a car that is engulfed in flames.

Secondly, explosions can occur. As the electrolyte ignites suddenly this can lead to explosions. These explosions can lead to flames traveling large distances. In addition, there is also the risk of being pelted with debris.

Lastly, you can get battery acid on you. As the battery becomes compromised, the acid can get out. It can get onto your skin and cause severe pain and damage. This can lead to chemical burns on your skin. If it is to get into your eyes, it can also damage your eyes and potentially lead to blindness.

What To Do If You Get Battery Acid On You

If you get battery acid on yourself, is there anything that you can do? There are some things that you can do to try to minimize the effects. First off, if you get it on your skin, you want to wash it off with water as soon as possible. It is recommended that you let lukewarm water flow across the affected area for 30 minutes to an hour. You will also want to quickly remove any clothing or jewelry that also might have been exposed to the acid. This will help minimize the effects. You will also want to head to the emergency room as soon as you can.

If you were to get it into your eyes, you will also want to get to water as quickly as possible. Like on your skin, you will want to let lukewarm water wash over them for at least 30 minutes. Much like with your skin, you will want to get to the emergency room as soon as you can.

Getting battery acid on your can be very severe. Not only can it blind you but it can severely burn you. If you ever are exposed to it you will want to try to get it off of you as quickly as possible as you make your way to the emergency room. The faster you are able to get care, the less severe the effects will be for you.

What Should You Do If Your Battery Catches Fire After An Accident?

If your battery catches on fire after an accident the very first thing that you should do is get away from it. The battery can unexpectedly explode and shoot flames. You want to make sure that you, any passengers, and any others nearby are out of danger.

From there, you need to call 911. Let the firefighters know that this car fire is an electric car fire. Firefighters receive special training so that they know how to handle these situations. It’s important that you let professionals try to put the fire out to help protect you and others.

How Firefighters Put Out A Battery Fire

So, what should firefighters do to put out electric car battery fires? Are they different than a fire on another type of vehicle? Electric car fires are definitely very different from other types of vehicles. Lithium-ion battery fires can be extremely difficult to put out. Even after a fire can appear to be entirely extinguished it can reignite. Some cases have shown that a battery has reignited almost 24 hours after it was thought to be put out. Also, a burning battery can burn for hours, which makes them extremely difficult to put out.

The best tool for putting out a lithium-ion battery fire is water. The main goal of putting out a fire on these batteries is just trying to get as much heat out as possible. Water has excellent thermal conductivity and is a great choice for pulling out heat. It is important that firefighters have access to a reliable, constant water supply with lots of volumes. You will want to keep a constant water flow on the battery for a very long time. This can sometimes last for around 24 hours.

The difficult part of this is getting water throughout the battery pack. You want to make sure no part of the battery pack gets too hot, or the fire can easily reignite, even when you least expect it. A lithium-ion battery isn’t considered safe until it is either completely discharged, submerged in water, or disassembled. Obviously, if the car is in flames, doing these things can be very difficult.

One thing that some places are doing in order to fight these types of fires is lifting up burning electric cars with a crane. From there, they can place the cars into a large container full of water. This completely submerges the vehicle which serves to keep the entire battery in check. This is an extremely effective and quick way of taking care of these fires. The difficult part is getting a large container full of water and a crane near the accident on short notice.

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