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Alabama Man Says E-Cigarette Explosion Was “Like a Volcano”

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E-cigarette manufacturers often advertise their products as being safer and healthier alternatives to real cigarettes because they don’t contain tobacco or tar-related chemicals. They also promote them as tools to help people quit smoking.

The advertising worked with one Alabama man, who about six months ago, made the switch from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes. Then, in March 2017, he sat down to eat breakfast at a friend’s house when the device suddenly exploded in his pocket blowing fire “like a volcano,” according to a media report on Wave 3.

This is just one of many incidents of e-cigarettes exploding and causing serious injuries. Most of the events seem to be caused by a faulty lithium-ion battery that can overheat. ECigOne.com reports that at least 214 e-cigarette explosions have been reported in the media and other forums as of January 2017.

Fire Associations Report on Incidents of E-Cigarettes Exploding

In this particular incident, the explosion welded the device to the Alabama’s man’s leg, causing second- and third-degree burns. He beat out the flames while his friend’s children, 12 and 9, watched. He told authorities that he hadn’t modified the device at all, and was simply storing it in his pocket between uses. He described the pain being “like no pain I have ever experienced,” and added that he may have to undergo a skin graft to repair the burned area.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported in 2015 that since entering the market in 2007, e-cigarettes have grown in popularity, with safety concerns increasing at about the same pace. In 2014, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reported 25 e-cigarette fires and explosions between 2009 and 2014, with an additional 15 identified in 2015. Of just those 15, twelve resulted in injuries requiring medical treatment.

The issue seems to be connected to the shape of the devices. Because they are cylindrical, pressure can build up quickly inside them. If a lithium-ion battery overheats, the device can actually explode and launch projectiles in the near vicinity. Some victims have suffered eye and face injuries from this type of explosion.

The victim from this incident is considering hiring an attorney to determine his eligibility to recover damages in a liability case.

More Victims in Idaho and Canada

Other victims have also recently reported cases of e-cigarettes exploding. In January 2017, East Idaho News reported on a local man that was vaping when the device exploded in his face, sending him to intensive care. He lost seven teeth and suffered second-degree burns to his face and neck. The device shattered, sending pieces of plastic and other foreign materials into his mouth, throat and lips. The victim noted that the explosion also caused property damage to his home.

In February 2017, Fox News reported that a Canadian man suffered second-and third-degree burns on his leg after his e-cigarette exploded in his pocket. He and his wife were leaving a restaurant when the device apparently got close to his pocket change and blew up. He will need skin grafts to repair the damage to his thigh. His hands were also burned while trying to put the fire out.

“It was horrific and needless to say,” his wife told Fox News, “his vaping days are over.”

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