Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigs or vapes, have recently become popular due to their marketing as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, these devices have also been linked to reports of explosions, fires and severe burn injuries.
What’s the Problem?
At least 168 e-cigarette explosions have been reported in the media as of April 3, 2016, according to ECigOne.com. Of these incidents:
- 45 explosions occurred during use.
- 73 explosions occurred during charging.
- 28 explosions happened during transport, storage or unknown circumstances.
- 22 events involved spare batteries for removable battery mods.
- 101 incidents resulted in personal injury or death.
- 67 events resulted in no injuries to people, but may have resulted in animal death or severe property damage.
As serious and widely reported as these incidents may seem, it is likely that many if not most e-cigarette explosions are never reported. In some cases, media outlets may not consider the incidents newsworthy. In others, consumers might not report the event out of embarrassment or because no serious damage was caused.
FEMA Report on Exploding E-Cigarettes
Between 2009 and August 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) received at least 25 reports of fire and explosion linked to e-cigarettes or portable vape pens in the U.S. Nine injuries — including 2 serious burns — were associated with these incidents. The events occurred:
- While being charged – 20 (80%)
- While being used – 2 (8%)
- During storage or transportation – 1 (4%)
- Not reported – 2 (8%)
These incidents were typically characterized as explosions, occurring suddenly and accompanied by a loud noise, flash of light, smoke and ejection of the battery. In several cases the exploding e-cigarette caused ignition of nearby flammable items such as carpets, drapes, bedding, couches or vehicle seats.
According to FEMA, the shape and construction of e-cigarettes make them more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to behave like “flaming rockets” when a battery fails. Vape batteries should always be charged according to the manufacturer’s instructions; using unapproved power sources to charge the batteries can result in an explosion and/or fire.
Additionally, many e-cigs feature a USB port for connecting it to the power adapter provided by the manufacturer. The use of ordinary USB port charging connections allows users to connect the device to power adapters that are not provided by the manufacturer. The use of such non-approved power adapters appears to be responsible for many incidents involving e-cigarettes, according to FEMA.
Vape Battery Failure
E-cigarettes are different from many other electronic devices because the battery is situated in a cylindrical device that has its weakest structural point at the ends. When the battery seal ruptures, pressure within the cylinder quickly builds and explodes, usually at the end. As a result, the battery and/or container can be propelled across the room like a bullet or small rocket.
Exploding E-Cigs Likely to Cause Injuries
The nature of E-cigarette explosion reports has changed dramatically as the devices have increased in popularity. The FEMA document noted above suggests that about 80% of explosions occurred during charging. Additionally, most explosions reported prior to early 2015 involved no injuries.
However, different types of explosions started being reported when sub-ohm vaping and mods with removable batteries became popular. Now more than ever, e-cigarettes are likely to explode while being used. Explosions resulting from people carrying spare batteries in their pockets are also far more common. Regardless of how they happen, e-cig explosions are far more likely to cause injury today than they were in the past.
How to Avoid an Electronic Cigarette Explosion
The following steps can help you avoid an exploding electronic cigarette:
- Follow battery charging guidelines and don’t charge the devices unattended.
- Don’t carry spare batteries in your pocket, and discard batteries with any visible damage.
- Be careful when using mechanical mods, as they offer little to no safety protection.
- If you own a hybrid mod, use it with attachments that have a center pin that protrudes from the threading. If the center pin is even with the threading, it could cause a short as the pin and threading will touch the battery simultaneously.
Milwaukee Man Goes Back to Cigarettes After Vape Explosion
Nov. 7, 2019 – Robert Lewis, a Milwaukee man who claims an e-cigarette exploded in his kitchen and burned a hole in the floor, has gone back to smoking cigarettes, according to MTMJ-TV.
“I have been having health problems you know with my lungs,” Lewis said. Before he started vaping, Lewis smoked a half a pack per week. “Now I’m up to like three-quarters of a pack or sometimes a whole pack.”
Lewis said he was using vape juice with 6 milligrams of nicotine in his SMOKTech vape, compared to his Newport cigarettes, which have 13.4 milligrams each. However, even though Lewis is ingesting more than double the amount of nicotine on a daily basis, he no longer risks blowing his face off or burning up the kitchen when he partakes.
New York Man Sues E-Cigarette Manufacturer
October 17, 2019 – A man from Solvay, New York, has filed a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of an e-cigarette device that allegedly exploded in his pocket, according to CNY Central. Plaintiff Joshua Williams claims he was critically injured after his “Smoke H-Priv Pro Kit” and batteries blew up in his pocket. The explosion severely burned his leg and other body parts, requiring surgery and skin grafts, according to the lawsuit. Williams suing for $75,000.
Texas Man Dies From Vape Explosion
February 14, 2019 – An exploding e-cigarette caused a man from Fort Worth, Texas, to suffer brain injuries so catastrophic they resulted in his death from a severed carotid artery. The victim, 24-year-old William Brown, was at a vaporizer store in Keller, Texas, when the fatal accident occurred. His grandmother says he had just purchased the vape, and was using it for the first time in her car when it exploded in his mouth.
New Study Questions E-Cigarette Effectiveness at Helping Smokers Quit
February 5, 2019 – E-cigs or “vapes” are nearly twice as effective at helping traditional cigarette smokers kick the habit, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The findings contradict a popular opinion among many that e-cigs are not reliable tools for smoking cessation.
E Cigarette Lawsuit Filed in Kansas
April 30, 2018 – A Kansas man who claims the spare battery to his electronic cigarette exploded inside his pocket and caused him severe burn injuries has filed a products liability lawsuit against the vape shop where he purchased the device. The explosion was a result of metal from some of the other items plaintiff had in his pocket interacting with the spare battery in a way that caused a short leading to a “thermal runway,” the complaint states.
Navy Bans E-Cigarettes Over Exploding Battery Concerns
April 18, 2017 – The U.S. Navy is banning e-cigarettes and portable vaporizers from its aircraft, ships and submarines after receiving multiple reports of the devices’ batteries exploding, catching fire and injuring sailors. Malfunctioning e-cigs have forced at least one aircraft to land, started fires on ships and left multiple sailors with severe burns. Vape injuries have occurred when the devices were being used, charged or replaced, or when they came into contact with other metal objects.
FDA to Investigate Exploding E-Cigarettes
January 4, 2017 – The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to hold a 2-day public meeting in April to discuss the dangers of exploding batteries in e-cigarettes and vapes. The Associated Press reported in December that the agency had identified at least 66 e-cigarette explosions between 2015 and early 2016.
E-Cigarette Explosion Injures Girl on Harry Potter Ride
October 4, 2016 – A 14-year-old girl who was riding the Hogwarts Express ride at Universal Orlando received mild to moderate burns after a vape exploded in a nearby college student’s pocket, according to FOX News. The girl was injured on her right side, and taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to be treated. Police say the teen whose pocket the e-cigarette exploded in was likely injured as well, but he and his friends fled the scene before officers could be notified.
Exploding E-Cigarette Burns Boston Man
July 6, 2016 – A 47-year-old man suffered burns Saturday morning after an e-cigarette exploded in his face at a Radisson Hotel in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, according to CBS News. Firefighters responded to the call just before 3 a.m. and found minor smoke and fire damage. The man was treated at the hotel for second degree burns to his left hand after the device’s battery pack exploded. The explosion came while the man was charging the device, according to authorities.
Orange County Man Injured After E-Cigarette Explodes in his Face
June 6, 2016 – An Orange County man was injured Friday night when an electronic cigarette exploded in his face, according to NBC Los Angeles. Firefighters responded to reports of a person burned in the 14600 block of Carfax Drive in Tustin just before 10:30 p.m. The man suffered burns and cuts to his face, and was taken to a hospital in unknown condition.
E-Cig Explosion Breaks Tennessee Man’s Neck
May 31, 2016 – Cordero Caples was smoking an e-cigarette last November when the device exploded, breaking his neck, burning his mouth and knocking out his teeth, according to CBS News. The 29-year-old was rushed to a Colorado hospital in critical condition and was forced to undergo spinal surgery. Caples spent 10 days in the hospital and still has not been able to return to his job as an automobile retailer.
“He could have lost his life,” said Colessia Porter, Caples’ sister. “There’s people that have lost limbs from this. We cannot have something of this magnitude happening to people.”
California Man Loses Eye from Exploding E-Cigarette
May 23, 2016 – Orange County resident Joseph Cavins was at home on his computer last month when his e-cigarette exploded, starting a fire and sending hot shrapnel into his eye, according to the OC Register. Doctors said the vape hit his face so hard that it cracked his eye socket and sinus bones, and left shrapnel embedded in his eyeball, which they were unable to save. Cavins filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court against several e-cigarette manufacturers and sellers.
Do I Have an E-Cigarette Explosion Lawsuit?
The Product Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in electronic cigarette lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new exploding vape cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you were injured by an e-cigarette, vape or other electronic smoking device, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and we can help.