The popularity of e-cigarettes has exploded in recent years, but more and more people are finding themselves injured by the lithium batteries that power them. These are the same type of batteries that caused hoverboards to explode last year. You might remember, News 5 talked to Timothy Cade in Gulf Shores back in November. He had the hoverboard for 3 days when it suddenly exploded under his feet. Incidents like this one led to bans on hoverboards on school campuses, and a ban on sales on Amazon.
Now we are hearing more cases of people being burned from the lithium batteries used in e-cigarettes. USA Medical Center has seen a spike in the number of patients badly burned from e-cigarette batteries. The patients weren’t even aware that the batteries could blow up on them. In fact, they’ve had seven patients come in, in the last six months burned by e-cigarette batteries. It is important to note that it is not the actual cigarette that is exploding. It is the lithium battery.
News 5 spoke to Eric Stewart, one of the burn victims who spent a week in the USA Burn Unit recovering. Two months ago, he was burned when an e-cigarette battery blew up in his pocket. Flames shot out of his leg. He says, “For 12 seconds it shot out. It was shooting in this direction out of my leg. I was pushing it down from coming higher.” He also badly burned his hands. He says the battery exploding sounded like a “roman candle that wouldn’t end.” He says the pain from his injuries was the worst he’s ever experienced. He will have a huge scar for life, but is expected to be able to resume normal activities.
News 5 talked to Dr. Steven Kahn who is the head burn/trauma surgeon at USA. We also talked to Dr. Scott Patterson who is a burn/trauma surgeon. Both doctors treated the patients who came in with e-cigarette battery burns. Many of the burns were on the patient’s face, legs, and hands. Dr. Kahn says, “The most serious case we had was a gentleman who had it in his pocket and it exploded. He burned his thigh, but he also burned his genitals and he required an operation.” Dr. Patterson says none of the patients realized that their e-cigarette batteries could explode on them. “Anything that has a lithium battery can cause a fire. I have done some research, and what I have learned is that they are small lithium batteries, and they cannot handle the heat.” Dr. Kahn stresses, “I don’t think you should smoke, and you should really be careful about e-cigarettes and understand the risks you are getting yourself into.”
Experts recommend keeping your e-cigarette in a case, and not in your pocket. They also say to charge the cigarette in a place such as a kitchen or bathroom, not near something flammable like a bed.