Damn, there were at least a dozen stories today on the tobacco news about exploding e-cigarettes. I posted something about this some time ago.
In a story I found all over the place, some guy in Utah was badly burned by his e-cigarette battery exploding in his pants while he was driving. He ended up in the hospital with second- and third-degree burns on his hands and legs. Sounds awful. Don’t watch the video unless you have a strong stomach. The fire was so bad, it literally melted his pants to his car seat.
Well, these are probably still a bit rare, but according to this story from Seattle, it’s a growing problem. Harborview Medical Center in Seattle reported that it treated four people in the past three months alone for severe burns caused by exploding e-cigarettes
From a Yakima Herald article:
National fire experts say the Harborview cases are part of a small but disturbing trend linked to battery failures in the popular devices often touted as a safer substitute for tobacco cigarettes.
“I realized that this was something that was happening more frequently than we had previously recognized,” said Dr. Elisha Brownson, the Harborview trauma and burn critical-care fellow who’s tracking the problem.
“I just think that if people really knew this could explode in your face, they would consider twice putting a device like this to their mouth.”
Remember, these things are cheaply made and are often made in China where safety standards are pretty lax. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 25 injuries in the U.S. caused by e-cigarette explosions between 2009 and 2014. Well, heck, e-cig use has exploded (no pun intended) since 2014, so I bet that number has gone up quite a bit. The number of nicotine poisonings from e-cig vials has gone up exponentially in the past two years, mostly because many more people are using them than ever before.
In a couple of cases cited in this article, one person lost 12 teeth when an e-cig blew up in his mouth. Another woman had injuries to her nose when an e-cig explosion ripped out her nose ring.
This brings up the fact that sticking anything that generates heat into your mouth is going to have an inherent danger. One issue with cigarettes was the number of fires — both home and wildland — caused by cigarettes. At one time, it was estimated that over 1,000 people a year were being killed in the U.S. in cigarette fires (Obviously, that number has dropped largely because the smoking rate has dropped … and it still pales by comparison to the 400,000 who die from tobacco-related illnesses, I know). I’m amazed my dad never burned down the house. His smoking habit left burns in all of the furniture in the house, including his bed and linens.