Samsung Galaxy Note7 Devices Recalled Due to Battery Fires; Governments, Airlines Issue Warnings

P eople who travel usually carry what is known as a smartphone as part of their arsenal of required tools wherever they go in the world — as they can act as a telephone, alarm clock, currency converter, calculator, music device, camera, a vehicle to access the Internet, calendar, notepad, video camera, movie player, and perform other multiple useful functions — but millions of smartphones recalled due to battery fires of one specific brand can be potentially damaging to the sales of one particular company.

Samsung Galaxy Note7 Devices Recalled Due to Battery Fires; Governments, Airlines Issue Warnings

Samsung Galaxy Note7 exploded

Source: Reddit member brodesto. Click on the photograph to access the discussion of which this photograph accompanies.

This press release from Samsung Electronics America, Incorporated announced the immediate availability of the United States Product Exchange Program for owners of Galaxy Note7 smartphones, which was launched in response to the recent announcement pertaining to a “small number” of isolated issues with lithium ion battery cells associated with Galaxy Note7 devices.

The affected inventory has been identified by Samsung, which has stopped sales and shipments of those Galaxy Note7 devices.

If you are affected by the recall, the United States Product Exchange Program will offer you a gift card or bill credit worth $25.00 from select carrier retail outlets when choosing a Galaxy S7 family device or the Galaxy Note 7 device within the exchange program — as well as your choice of the following options where you can exchange your current Galaxy Note7 device — and Galaxy Note7 owners can contact or visit the retail outlet where they purchased their device or call 1-800-SAMSUNG to initiate a product exchange and to resolve any other questions or concerns:

  1. With a new Galaxy Note7 device, which should become available next week; or
  2. For a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge device and replacement of any Note7 specific accessories — with a refund of the price difference between devices

Statement Issued by the Federal Aviation Administration — and Possible Recall

As part of its Pack Safe initiative pertaining to the packing and transportation of hazardous materials, the situation is potentially serious enough that this official statement was issued at the official Internet web site of the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States on Thursday, September 8, 2016:

In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note 7 devices, the Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage.

In response, the Consumer Product Safety Commission of the United States is working on an official recall of the devices, according to this official press statement released on Friday, September 9, 2016:

Lithium-ion batteries pack a lot of power into a small package. When these batteries overheat and burst, the results can be serious. This is why the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging all consumers who own a Samsung Galaxy Note7 to power them down and stop charging or using the device.

This consumer warning is based on recent reports involving lithium-ion batteries in certain Note7 devices that have resulted in fires. These incidents have occurred while charging and during normal use, which has led us to call for consumers to power down their Note7s.

CPSC and Samsung are working cooperatively to formally announce an official recall of the devices, as soon as possible. CPSC is working quickly to determine whether a replacement Galaxy Note7 is an acceptable remedy for Samsung or their phone carriers to provide to consumers.

We advise all consumers to report product safety incidents involving lithium-ion batteries in smartphones to us via www.SaferProducts.gov.

Reactions From Other Governments and Airlines

In addition to the United States of America, airlines based in Australia, Japan, India, Singapore and the United Kingdom — such as Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, Qantas Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, American Airlines, Jetstar, Air France, Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines — have reportedly also either implemented bans or warnings pertaining to the use of Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices aboard airplanes or are at least investigating the issue.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation of the government of India advised that “when boarding a flight originating at an Indian airport, you should not turn on or charge a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone onboard the aircraft. You can’t check them into your check-in baggage as well. The only way to bring it onboard is to keep it off and inside the cabin”, according to this article written by 

Potential Danger on the Ground as Well

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee burned by Samsung Galaxy Note7

Source: Lydia Butcher.

The family of Lydia Butcher and her husband Nathan Dornacher blame their Samsung Galaxy Note7 device on a fire which consumed their 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee after it exploded in the driveway of their home in Saint Petersburg — leaving only the bare metal chassis of the vehicle remaining after the fire was extinguished by firefighters.

“Butcher said the blaze started Monday morning while Dornacher left the SUV running in the driveway with the air conditioning on and the phone plugged in”, according to this article written by Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times. “They were unloading their Labor Day garage sale finds.”

The official cause of the blaze has not yet been officially identified by authorities. Photographs of the charred remains of the sport utility vehicle accompany the article.

A Synopsis of the Checkered History of Lithium Ion Batteries

Lithium ion batteries have been a bane for commercial aviation for years, as they pose potential hazards to air travel due to their unpredictable combustible nature. Limits on the transportation of lithium batteries were first implemented by the Transportation Security Administration of the United States back in December of 2007 and became effective as of Tuesday, January 1, 2008.

The transporting of UN3480 lithium ion batteries as cargo on any airplanes which carry passengers became prohibited in Canada effective as of Friday, April 1, 2016 in order to protect the safety of the public.

Some airlines — both passenger and cargo — and other governments already have their own similar directives to the one recently issued in Canada. This document pertaining to guidance of the transport of lithium batteries was issued by the International Air Transport Association on December 15, 2014; and it contains detailed information and photographs of examples of lithium batteries.

final rule which explicitly bans the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial airplanes — which applies to all scheduled flights of carriers based within and outside of the United States involving transportation within, to, and from the United States — was recently implemented by the Department of Transportation of the United States. Electronic cigarettes are considered hazardous because of incidents such as the one where an electronic cigarette reportedly burned a small hole in a piece of checked baggage located inside of an Embraer 190 airplane operated by JetBlue Airways at Logan International Airport in Boston on Saturday, August 9, 2014, causing the evacuation of passengers from the aircraft whose destination was Buffalo.

Delta Air Lines flight 689 was delayed on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 when an electronic cigarette ignited inside a bag carried aboard the airplane by a passenger while the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 aircraft carrying 160 passengers was still on the tarmac at the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, according to this article written by Carla Caldwell of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The bag was extinguished with no damage to the aircraft, which arrived late at its destination in Saint Louis.

The dangers of lithium ion batteries were arguably most famously illustrated by the flawed rollout of the new Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” airplanes, which were initially plagued with problemsA battery fire occurred in January of 2013 at Logan International Airport in Boston — which prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to ground the entire fleet of Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft worldwide for months; and lithium battery fires contributed to the temporary removal of the aircraft from service of the fleets of both All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines back in January of 2013.

Summary

Smartphones and other portable electronic devices are generally safe to carry and use, thankfully — especially when brought aboard a limited enclosed space such as the passenger cabin of an airplane.

Samsung has taken the proactive measure of voluntarily recalling approximately 2.5 million Galaxy Note7 devices to ensure that its customers can safely use those devices — despite the possibility of negatively impacting the financial bottom line for the company — and they deserve at least some credit for that action to protect the consumer…

…but this worldwide alert on the potentially explosive nature of the battery of the Galaxy Note7 device is already causing serious damage to the reputation — and, quite possibly, the financial bottom line of Samsung — and recovery from this negative publicity will take considerable time and effort.

Hopefully, the updated versions of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices will be substantially safer to use — both in the air and on the ground.

Source: Samsung.

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