Vaping has exploded onto the scene in recent years — but the vapes themselves sometimes explode, all too literally.
What Is a “Vape”?
Modern e-cigarettes (also known as vaporizers or vapes) were invented in 2003 and introduced to American markets in 2006. In the past decade, millions of smokers in the United States have embraced them as a “healthier” alternative to traditional cigarettes, although the scientific research has yielded mixed results, and vaping does appear to pose some health risks.
There is also the small but significant risk that the battery will explode, as featured in recent death of a Florida man.
Death Due to Exploding Vape
On May 5, 2018, Tallmadge D’Elia, was found dead after a fire in his home; the autopsy ruled his death resulted from an explosion in the vape pen on his person. Although D’Elia suffered severe burns over much of his body, the direct cause of death was the shrapnel that lodged in his head from the exploding vape.
This certainly is not the first occurrence of its kind — there have been hundreds of exploding vape injuries, according to a report by the United States Fire Administration, although, D’Elia is the first actual death attributable to this cause in the U.S.
What Do I Need to Know about Exploding Vapes?
Vape explosions are rare, but can be serious. According to the above-linked U.S. Fire Administration report, there have been approximately 195 recorded vape explosions in the United States through 2016. Of these, 133 resulted in injuries, 38 of which were severe.
Statistically, the risk is quite small, considering the millions of vapes currently in use across the country. However, vape explosions are uniquely devastating for one major reason: vapes are more likely than most other types of electrical devices to be kept in people’s’ pockets, near the body. In the U.S. Fire Administration study, 121 of the vape explosions (well over half of the total) occurred when the device was either in the user’s pocket or in active use near the face.
The fires caused by an exploding vape can also pose a risk. In 10 of the recorded incidences, the explosion led to a fire that caused damage to a building and had to be suppressed by the fire department.
What Causes Vapes To Explode?
The explosions are caused when the lithium batteries in the vapes short-circuit, which leads to combustion.
The e-cigarette industry has taken steps to prevent lithium battery explosions in their products, and vape shops sell plastic cases for spare batteries to deter short-circuiting. However, many vape users buy their spare batteries elsewhere, or salvage them from other devices, so, they may not have the necessary protection. Some consumers go even further and construct their own makeshift vapes from spare parts or other materials, which increases the risk of explosion.
How Can I Protect Myself From A Faulty Vape?
A list of safety tips has been released by the FDA, which has been regulating vapes since 2016.
- Use a vape with safety features like fire button locks, vent holes, and protection from overcharging.
- Keep lose batteries away from metal, such as coins or keys. If possible, keep them in a plastic case.
- Use the charger that came with the vape, or another one of the same type/brand. Never use a charger intended for a phone or tablet.
- Use care when charging the device. Do not leave a vape charging overnight or unattended.
- If the batteries are damaged or come into contact with water, replace them immediately.
As with the charger, only use the type of batteries recommended for your device, with the same charge levels, and don’t use old and new batteries together.
Finally, use common sense when vaping. Read the device manual, and obey any safety warnings. Do not alter your vape, or disable any safety features. Charge it on a clean and flat surface, and do not expose it to extreme temperatures. If you have any questions about the safety of the product, contact the manufacturer.
Steps To Take After A Vape Accident
If your vape explodes, the first and most important step is to ensure your own safety and that of those around you. If the explosion has caused a fire that you cannot easily extinguish, call the fire department. If you or another person has been injured, seek immediate medical attention — even if your injuries do not seem severe. Adrenaline can mask the true severity of injuries.
Second, report the incident to the FDA. You can do this on their website, and it will be added to a government record of all such incidents, allowing them to effectively track the causes of vape explosions, and perhaps find solutions.
Third, speak to an attorney.
Not all vape accidents are actionable legal cases. If the vape has been altered, for instance, the vape explosion will be the consumer’s fault. However, it occurred because of a manufacturing or design defect with the vape, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
So How Do Vape Lawsuits Work?
While no product can be 100% safe, consumers have a right to expect manufacturers to design products that would not pose an unreasonable hazard when used normally for their intended purpose.
Product liability lawsuits involve what is called “strict liability.” This means you do not have to prove negligence against the manufacturer or designer; simply that a defect existed, and that it was traceable back to the manufacturer or designer.
This is why it is important to preserve evidence after the accident. Take pictures of the vape and the damage done by the explosion, and save medical records related to your injuries.
Whatever you do, don’t send the defective vape back to the company! If you surrender the defective product, it can’t be used as evidence. This may seriously harm your case.
If you have been injured in a vape explosion, call TorkLaw today at 888.845.9696 for a FREE consultation. We are interested in hearing your story and helping you find the justice you deserve.