A Florida man whose e-cigarette exploded in his pants pocket was airlifted to a Manatee County hospital Nov. 21 with extensive burn injuries.
The 43-year-old man reportedly stowed the e-cigarette in the back pocket of his pants. The device exploded when he sat down on a chair at work.
E-cigarettes are powered by powerful lithium-ion batteries, which can burst with intensely hot flames if damaged, flawed, overcharged, or stored with other metal objects.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that the man’s burn injuries are not considered life-threatening, but he was flown to Blake Medical Center by BayFlite as a trauma alert.
A recent study of e-cigarette injuries based on an analysis of data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that U.S. hospitals treated an estimated 2,035 patients for burn injuries related to e-cigarette explosions between 2015 and 2017. That number is more than 15 times higher than the 130 annual e-cigarette explosion injuries reported by the U.S. Fire Administration in 2017 – a figure that is often quoted in the press.
In May 2018, an e-cigarette explosion killed a 38-year-old man in St. Petersburg, Florida. Officers who responded to a fire alarm found the severely burned man with facial injuries. The Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the man suffered a fatal projectile wound to the head.
According to investigators, the projectile was a section of the man’s Smok-E Mountain e-cigarette that blasted toward the man’s head.
Most all e-cigarette explosions and fires are caused by the lithium-ion batteries that power the devices. While lithium-ion batteries can and do malfunction in other consumer products, such as laptops and cell phones, they usually don’t pose the same risks as e-cigarettes, which are held close to the face, inserted in the mouth, and often carried in a pants pocket.