Recently there has been a lot of talk about battery safety, specifically Lithium batteries. Due to news reports about certain cellular phone batteries catching fire and exploding (Samsung), now seemed like a good time to remind people of how to safely care for the Lithium batteries within your laptops.
Lithium batteries are very stable and can provide a lot of power output for their size and weight, as compared with Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries. What makes Lithium batteries somewhat dangerous is the electrolyte compound that is used to keep the Lithium metal in suspension and allows the electricity to flow. This electrolyte can be very flammable, so the batteries are usually contained within a hard shell and many sensors to ensure they do not overcharge or overheat during use.
Needless to say, these sensors and protective casings can only do so much to protect the user. Using poor storage methods and damaging your device can compromise these safeties and lead you to have a battery failure or worse.
Storing a laptop in extreme cold or heat can prevent the battery from discharging correctly. Discharging too quickly (extreme heat) or discharging to slowly (extreme cold) can cause a battery to overheat and result in a battery failure or worse. Safe temperatures for storing a laptop are between 45º to 110ºF. Above and below these temperatures will affect charging and discharging of the batteries.
Also, damage to the laptop itself can cause problems for the batteries. A drop, a deep dent in the casing, crushing, and violent shocks to the laptop can also damage the inner casing surrounding and protecting the batteries within. As an example, a deep dent to the metal casing of the laptop could cause the inner casing of the battery to become misshapen, pressing in on the battery. This could cause an uneven buildup of heat within the battery and lead to failure of the battery.
Basically in the end, if you take care of your laptop or device, your Lithium battery will continue to provide you with plenty of power to get you through your day.