A Michigan man continues to recover from extensive third-degree burns he sustained when the lithium-ion battery in his e-cigarette exploded in the pocket of his pants.
Thirty-five-year-old Sean Ritz of Canton, Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press his burn injuries, which covered his entire leg, were so severe that he spent four days in the intensive care unit, followed by more than a week at the University of Michigan hospital.
Mr. Ritz was at home with his wife when the blast occurred Oct. 22. He said he heard a “fizzing” sound at first, before the device flared and engulfed his pants in flames.
“It was absolutely terrifying. It was loud, smoke was shooting out,” Mr. Ritz said, adding that he and his wife fought to get his jeans off
“It looked like a hot dog you leave on the grill too long; completely black and cracked in a few places,” Mr. Ritz told the Detroit Free Press. “I peeled a piece of it off, and realized it was part of my skin.”
Mr. Ritz said his e-cigarette and the batteries he bought to use in it came with no warnings about the potential for explosion and fire. He is now suing the Westland, Michigan, shop where he bought them.
Hospitals in Michigan and every other state have seen a dramatic rise in the number of patients with burn injuries caused by exploding e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery devices powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
Injuries from e-cigarette and lithium battery explosions include severe leg and thigh burns; burns to the face, hands, arms, and chest; eye injuries; lacerations to the mouth, tongue, and lips; and broken or blown-out teeth.
The lithium-ion batteries that power e-cigarettes may have manufacturing or design defects that cause them to malfunction. They may also explode or burst into flames if damaged, stored with other batteries or metal objects, or overcharged.