Why Vape Pens Explode and How to Avoid E-Cigarette Injury
October 5th, 2018
You’ve undoubtedly heard horror stories or seen viral videos involving vape pens that exploded or caught fire, often seriously injuring the user. Some users have even been killed by exploding vape pens. We’ve reported in the past on the growing number of vape pen lawsuits that have emerged due to exploding batteries.
The e-cigarette industry faces a conundrum: obviously, manufacturers don’t want their products maiming and killing people, triggering a wave of high dollar lawsuits. They also don’t want concerns about a relatively small number of incidents hurting their businesses. As such, you may have seen safety articles published by various manufacturers and distributors, attempting to “set the record straight.” Unfortunately, each of these entities has a vested interest in presenting a certain type of product as safer than the others, which makes it difficult for a user or would-be user to know which information is most reliable.
While many factors can make an e-cigarette hazardous, more neutral experts have identified characteristics that make vape pens a unique risk.
Vape Pen Risk Factors
According to the U.S. Fire Administration—a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—the key risk associated with electronic cigarettes is that the current generation of lithium-ion batteries simply are not a safe or appropriate power source for the devices. Though the batteries explode or catch fire infrequently, the results when they do are often catastrophic, and perhaps even fatal.
One reason vape pen explosion injuries are so often serious is the way the devices are used and carried. A device in use may explode in the user’s hand, mouth, or both, causing mangling of the hand, loss of teeth, a broken jaw, facial burning, and even serious head injuries. Devices not in use are often carried in shirt pockets or pants pockets, meaning that they are pressed against the body when an explosion occurs and that clothing is likely to catch fire or melt to the skin when the device catches fire.
The devices also present a special risk because of their shape: a vape pen explosion may result in a pointed, aerodynamic projectile hurtling through the air.
Safe E-Cigarette Usage
Given that the nature of the device itself presents the risk, there are no safety tips that will guarantee a user a safe experience. However, those who decide to gamble on the use electronic cigarettes can take certain steps to reduce the risk of serious injury or death.
- Never attempt to modify a device to increase vapor flow or make other changes—such modifications may increase the load on the battery or weaken connections, increasing the likelihood of a fire or explosion.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe charging of the device, and be sure not to overcharge or use an inappropriate power source for charging.
- Don’t plug the device in to charge in a location that will present a particular danger if the battery explodes, such as on a bedside table or within reach of children.
- Consider alternatives to carrying the device in clothing and close to the body, to help minimize the likelihood and extent of injury if the device explodes.
Help for People Injured in Vape Pen Explosions
If you have been injured when an electronic cigarette exploded or caught on fire, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Damages vary from case to case, but could include reimbursement for/payment of medical expenses, compensation for lost wages and future earning capacity, and even compensation for intangible damages such as pain and suffering and loss of quality of life. Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. for more information at 1-800-298-0111.
Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.