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February 2008    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 23, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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New Travel Rules for Dive Gear Batteries

from the February, 2008 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Heads up, underwater photographers: The Department of Transportation no longer allows travelers to pack any spare lithium batteries in checked luggage. You must carry them in your hand luggage. However, electronic devices with installed batteries can be in your checked luggage.

The regulations are written according to the weight of lithium in batteries and are difficult to apply, but for the most part, lithium batteries in consumer electronics fall far below the weight threshold.

The main thing a diver needs to know is that you may not pack ANY spare lithium batteries in your checked bags. Those you carry on should be in the original case, or in individual plastic bags with tape over their contacts.

There are additional rules concerning the weight of the lithium in the batteries, but for the most part are of concern only to professionals toting serious electronics, not cell phones, lap top computers or dive computers. For the detailed information and to track changes, go to http://safetravel.dot.gov. You can also call the Department of Transportations Hazardous Materials info line at 800- 467-4922 with specific questions.

PS: These are U.S. regulations. Other countries may have more stringent requirements and inspectors can be arbitrary. Subscriber Curt Whitney told us that bag checkers in the Bahamas made me throw away eight rechargeable NiMH batteries which were loose in my camera bag. They wouldnt consider being in a plastic bag adequate, only if they were in the device or a semi-sealed container which kept them from touching.

You do what they say, or you wont get on the plane.

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