Journalist, Cherry Park

Author Bio ▼

Cherry Park is an experienced freelance journalist and reporter who specializes in features, news, and news analysis, in print and online. She has written extensively in the areas of health and safety, fire safety, employment, HR, recruitment, rewards, pay and benefits, market research, environment, and metallurgy, and she also conducts research.
February 21, 2014

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E-Cigarettes Cause Fires and Explode – Even in One ‘Vaper’s’ Mouth

Woman smoking with electronic cigaretteIf cigarettes have always been a major fire hazard, their electronic imitators aren’t necessarily much safer.

Incidents of exploding e-cigarettes are on the rise as ‘vaping’ – as the act of smoking them is described – grows in popularity.

A woman in Nuneaton, Warwickshire awoke to find her bedroom ablaze last month after leaving an e-cigarette charging overnight via her laptop USB port. The blaze left a foot-sized hole in the carpet.

A man in Florida, meanwhile, lost part of his tongue and several teeth when an e-cigarette exploded in his mouth two years ago.

Incorrectly rated charger

And e-cigarettes, which manufacturers claim are a safer way to smoke because of the absence of tobacco or smoke, were implicated in the death of a woman at a Derbyshire care home last October. E-cigarette battery components set on fire material in her room, causing the explosion of an aerosol container. The fire was thought to result from components from different e-cigarettes being used together with an incorrectly rated charger.

Unlike those of mobile phones many e-cigarette batteries lack over-current protection and thus continue charging even once fully charged. The coil can potentially overheat and the battery explode in the unit.

A typical e-cigarette consists of three main components: a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, an atomiser and a replaceable or refillable cartridge containing liquid nicotine, flavours and other chemicals. Each brand has its own specific type of charger.

The battery heats up a coil attached to a wick, which heats the liquid containing nicotine, thus creating vapour that is then inhaled.

Current estimates put the number of e-cigarette users at 1.3million in the UK in a market worth £90m, which analysts expect to soar to £193m million by the end of this year and £339 million by 2015.

No regulation planned

In 2013 e-cigarettes were regularly used by 11% of smokers and sampled by 35%. Although EU regulations licensing them as medicines will come into force in 2016, no fire-safety regulation, as yet, is planned.

In some countries, such as New Zealand, e-cigarettes are regulated as medicines and can be purchased only in pharmacies, while in others, including Denmark, Canada and Australia, the devices are subject to restrictions on sale, import and marketing. Brazil, Norway and Singapore ban them completely.

Crews from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) recently attended two separate incidents when e-cigarette batteries were thrown up to two metres from where they were charged, before landing on carpet and igniting.

And last year a car’s upholstery was ruined after an e-cigarette exploded “like a firework” while charging in the 12V power socket. The owner had left the device charging overnight.

In Utah a three-year-old child suffered first- and second-degree burns after an e-cigarette exploded in a car charger.

In Phoenix, Arizona an e-cigarette cartridge overheated while it was plugged into its charger left on top of a woman’s bed, sparking a fire that caused $100,000 worth of damage to her home. 

Advice on charging e-cigarettes

West Yorkshire FRS has issued the following guidance to users of e-cigarettes:

  • Only use the charger supplied with your kit
  • Do not mix and match components from different e-cigarette manufacturers
  • Never over-tighten a battery on to the charger – plug the charger in first, then gently screw the battery in until the light on the charger flashes, and then stop
  • Never leave e-cigarettes unattended whilst charging
  • Clean the battery centre pin and charger contact at least once a week with tissue or alcohol wipes.
  • Remove the battery from charger when fully charged

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KuyaDave

Purely a inexperienced writer. This type of article shows ignorance. Where are the facts of cause. Proof of what was being done. The face incident is a clear and stupid thing. You need parts of his info. Such as he was using a non regulated advanced mod. Not a ecigarette. Possibly bad wrapping,damaged or under amp cell. And poorly or wrongly done coil. They are called advanced for a reason. And safety is important. Unknown about the charging incident. As your article is lacking info. Such as cartridges don’t charge or cause fires. They hold the flavoring/juice. Please fix your… Read more »

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