E-cigarettes : what are the risks of explosion?
Vaping is supposed to be safer than smoking… except when e-cigarettes explode in your face. Even tough fires or explosions caused by e-cigarettes are rare, we should take sufficient safety precautions to prevent them from happening.
The facts: how many incidents and how bad?
According to the US Fire Administration, 25 separate incidents of explosion and fire involving an e-cigarette were reported in the United States media between 2009 and August 2014. They resulted in 9 injuries – 2 of them being serious burns – but no deaths. Fortunately, users were generally nearby in case of a fire so they were able to extinguish it while it was still small. However, the 2 serious injuries occurred when devices exploded in users’ mouths.
Why does an e-cigarette explode?
The source of the explosion is a toasted battery. Indeed, most incidents occurred while the battery was charging. Users attempted to charge the e-cigarette with an incompatible device.
E-cigarettes like laptops, cellphones and most rechargeable devices use lithium-ion batteries, which are prone to overheating. The shape and construction of e-cigarettes can make them more likely than other products to become dangerous when a battery fails. Since most e-cigarettes are made to plug into a USB port, vapers assume that devices can be safely charged with a computer or iPad charger. But common USB ports allow the vaping devices to continue charging, even when they have reached their boiling point. If left too long, some e-cigarette batteries can fry. It is a dangerous mistake.
Lithium-ion batteries must be charged in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Using power sources not approved by the manufacturer can result in an explosion and fire.
How can we prevent explosions of e-cigarettes?
Customers need to be educated more about battery safety. It is tempting for many consumers to plug their device into car adapters, laptops, computers, and video game consoles. They are not aware of the fact that not all USB ports are created equal. The voltage and current provided by USB ports can vary significantly. It is impossible for consumers to determine whether a USB port is safe for an e-cigarette. That’s why consumers must not use an adapter that isn’t made specifically for an e-vape device and that was not supplied by the maufacturer. Otherwise, the battery may be subject to higher current than is safe, which may lead to an explosion or a fire.
E-cigarette manufacturers should consider changing to a different style of electrical connection and stop using USB-type electrical connections on e-cigarettes. It’s also safer to using a fire proof safety bag when charging an e-vape battery and storing the battery in plastic boxes to store the battery.