Lithium-ion batteries--the rechargeable cells that power most high-tech devices--store a lot more power than typical dry cells. Because of this, shipping electronics requires extra precautions.
Air transit in particular brings air-pressure and temperature changes causing build-ups in static electricity. A high-powered device like a laptop can also create a lot of heat in a closed container if accidentally powered on in transit. Enough static electricity or several hours of extreme heat can cause a lithium battery-powered device to short-circuit, smolder, or even set fire.
But today's global trade means that a gadget may ship halfway around the world before reaching stores, so retail packaging addresses these issues for you. Strict international safety regulations govern the retail packaging of lithium battery-powered devices, so it's best to leave your gift unopened in the manufacturer's original packaging when you pack it in your shipping box. If you need to pre-program your present before sending it, pay close attention to how the device is packaged when you remove it. Repack the same way and with the same materials as originally packaged, and be sure the device's power is off before it goes back in the box.
If you don't have retail packaging to work with, the most important things to ensure are that battery terminals are not exposed and that power buttons can't be turned on. Electronics are designed to keep batteries grounded when attached, so don't disconnect removable batteries. Cover or secure power buttons with electrical tape or cardboard, and place the device inside a plastic bag to insulate it from static electricity.
The double (over) boxing method is a great way to ship fragile items like electronics. Simply put, a double (over) box is a box within a box. This keeps the item away from the container's outer walls to minimize impacts. In addition, the layers of padding inside each box help absorb vibrations from bumps or jostling.
If the electronic device you're shipping is still in its original retail box, and it doesn't shift around when you move the box in your hands, the retail packaging can serve as your inner container. Otherwise, find a sturdy box about six inches larger than your device in height, length, and width. Wrap the item in several layers of bubble wrap and set it inside the box with at least two inches of padding on all six sides.
Pack the box as tight as you can with bubble wrap, foam inserts, or tightly-wadded kraft paper. (Don't use polystyrene "packing peanuts" or other types of loose-fill packaging--they create static electricity and won't keep your device from sliding around.) Seal the box with packing tape. Now cover your inner box in more bubble wrap and seal that box inside another container, again with two inches or more of padding on all sides.
You can call on the professionals if you're short on the time, materials, or confidence to pack and ship your high-tech gifts on your own. The UPS Store Certified Packing Experts® have specialty shipping supplies and can help you choose the right shipping method for electronics. And if The UPS Store does the packing and shipping for you, your shipment is covered by the Pack & Ship Guarantee.
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