Following two potentially tragic incidents in the past few weeks, The US Department of Transport has issued a safety advisory to air travellers regarding batteries used in laptops, cell phones, cameras and other portable electronic devices.

According to the advisory from the department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), passengers should keep spare batteries in their original retail packaging; keep loose batteries covered with insulating tape to protect them from contact with metal objects; place each battery in its own protective case, plastic bag or package; and pack spare batteries in carry-on baggage, rather than checked baggage.
Also, passengers should only use chargers designed for the battery type and take steps to prevent crushing, puncturing or dropping batteries.
The agency says the advisory follows two spontaneous fires on board commercial aircraft in the last six weeks.
On 10 February, a fire broke out in the overhead baggage compartment on a JetBlue flight. Preliminary investigation results indicate one or more loose batteries may have been the source of the fire.
On 18 March, PHMSA received reports that a battery had overheated or ignited on board an American Airlines aircraft flying from Argentina.
In each case, it says, airline employees responded quickly, extinguishing the fire and safely landing the aircraft.
"We’re determined to keep America’s airlines the safest in the world," says PHMSA chief safety officer, Stacey Gerard.