The Dangers of Vape Batteries and Explosions
The e-cigarette market is not yet regulated for battery safety, increasing the likelihood of battery explosions.
Exploding vape batteries can cause serious injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Deep cuts and bleeding
- Loss of teeth, eyes, and fingers
- Severe burns
These injuries often cause lasting emotional and physical scars — however, more and more victims of vape battery explosions are successfully seeking justice and receiving the compensation they deserve.
- There is little regulation of the vape industry, especially regarding batteries.
- From 2015-2017, e-cigarette burns and explosion-related injuries resulted in more than 2,000 U.S. emergency room visits.
- Vapes often explode near vulnerable areas like the face and hands, worsening injuries.
- Victims are already winning battery explosion lawsuits against irresponsible companies.
Why Do Vape Products Use Batteries?
E-cigarettes rely on a battery to power the heating coil. This coil heats e-liquid, which becomes the aerosol (vapor) e-cigarette users inhale.
Vape pens typically use lithium-ion batteries — the same batteries found in cell phones and laptops. They allow manufacturers to make slim, lightweight products that last a long time between charging.
The popular 18650 lithium-ion battery was intended for use in specific devices like power tools — not e-cigarettes.
In most electronic products such as cell phones and laptops, strict regulations make lithium-ion batteries relatively safe. However, they pose a health risk in the unregulated vape device industry.
Why Do Vape Batteries Explode
A lithium-ion vape battery explodes when it becomes too hot. The highly flammable liquid inside the battery reacts with oxygen, causing it to combust.
Types of Injuries Caused By Vape Battery Explosions
Vape battery explosions can cause injuries ranging from broken bones to lost teeth to blindness.
A 2017 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) report stated that battery explosion injuries are often severe because the batteries are usually close to the user’s body, especially the face.
An overheated battery in a vape user’s pocket can easily catch their clothes on fire, resulting in severe burns all over the body.
The chemicals in batteries can cause burns as well. A 2019 battery injury analysis from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported that most of the burn cases they analyzed came from a combination of flames and chemical burns presumably caused by lithium salt.
Several victims have sustained burns from vape battery explosions:
- In 2018, a woman from the San Francisco Bay Area suffered severe burns on her arm and side after her vape device’s spare batteries went up in flames in her purse.
- A Florida man had to undergo surgery in 2018 for the second-and third-degree burn he sustained after his vape pen exploded in his pocket.
- In a 2018 Cleveland case, a man’s spare vape battery combusted in his pocket, setting him on fire. He was rushed to the hospital with second-and third-degree burns.
Many physical injuries caused by vape battery explosions occur when debris from the shattered device is sent flying. Since vapes are often kept near sensitive areas like the groin, face, or hands, such explosions often have severe consequences.
- Broken bones
- Cuts and bleeding
- Holes in the tongue and mouth
- Loss of teeth
- Permanent scars
Reports of physical injuries from vape explosions include:
- A 17-year-old in Utah had his entire jaw cracked, several teeth blown out, and a chunk of jawbone completely shattered in June 2019 after his e-cigarette exploded in his mouth.
- In April 2019, a young Tennessee man’s e-cigarette exploded, its pieces breaking several teeth and ripping off part of his face. He needed 65 stitches and was incapacitated for weeks.
There have even been deaths from vape explosions:
- In 2019, debris from an exploding vape pen severed a Texas man’s neck artery, causing a stroke that killed him just weeks before his 25th birthday.
- A Tampa man died in 2018 after a projectile from his exploded vape pen shot into his brain. In addition, the explosion started a fire that burned over 80% of his body.
Medical Treatment For Battery Explosion Injuries
According to a 2018 report published in the journal Tobacco Control, an estimated 2,035 emergency room visits were caused by vape burns and explosions from 2015-2017.
Anyone injured in a vape battery explosion should see a doctor as soon as possible. If injuries are severe, they should call 911.
After calling 911 for a severe battery explosion injury:
- Move the victim away from the battery to prevent further injury.
- Make sure the victim is breathing.
- Stop severe bleeding as soon as possible.
- Elevate serious wounds above heart level, if possible.
- Look for signs of shock, such as paleness, fainting, and shallow breaths.
A local hospital may not be equipped to handle serious battery explosion injuries such as loss of body parts, shattered bones, or severe burns. Such injuries may require reconstructive surgeries, skin grafting, or even amputation.
Victims of severe battery explosion injuries should seek medical treatment at a:
- Hospital emergency room
- Trauma center
- Burn unit
Those who have suffered less severe injuries can schedule an appointment with their doctor or visit a local clinic.
Battery Explosion Lawsuits
Victims of vape battery explosions have started taking legal action to receive compensation for the serious harm they suffered or for the deaths of their loved ones.
Some companies that have faced lawsuits involving an exploding vape battery include:
- VGOD: The vape manufacturer created the device that exploded in Tennessee man David Bishop’s face in 2019, causing serious injuries.
- LG Chemical: A Korean affiliate of LG Electronics, this company made the batteries that malfunctioned in the Bishop case.
- Samsung SDI: This battery manufacturer was involved in a suit filed by a Brownsville woman. The woman suffered severe burns from an e-cigarette explosion.
Companies and the U.S. government have taken measures to combat these tragedies.
Government Response to Battery Explosions
On August 8, 2016, a new rule allowed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish standards and impose rules on the e-cigarette market — including vape batteries.
It announced in 2017 that it intended to develop specific standards to protect against battery issues.
However, a 2017 FDA extension meant that e-cigarette companies with products sold before August 8, 2016, have until 2022 to comply with the administration’s regulations.
Until then, the FDA has released information on e-cigarette battery safety and is actively urging battery explosion victims to report any incidents.
Company Responses to Battery Explosions
Several of the largest e-cigarette brands claim that they take precautions against battery explosions through rigorous product testing and built-in battery fail-safes — however, many other brands do not take these safety measures.
In 2018, several leading battery manufacturers and industry trade groups started an awareness campaign called Be-cigarettesafe, warning vape users of the dangers of using removable lithium-ion batteries with e-cigarettes.
Legal Help for Vape Battery Explosion Injuries
As governmental agencies catch up to the new e-cigarette industry, more vape battery regulations will hopefully be imposed to keep the public safer.
Until then, these battery explosions continue to happen too frequently with severe consequences for the victims and their families. However, filing a lawsuit can help cover medical treatments, compensate for suffering, and hold negligent companies responsible.
If you have been harmed by a vape device battery explosion, we are here to answer your questions. Start a free case review today to learn more about your legal options.