Here is another in our continuing series of things going on around Rochester.
A man from a Rochester, NY, suburb almost had his electronic cigarette blow up in his face.
John Hall, who lives in Gates, had just unplugged his rechargeable e-cigarette from the charger when the device exploded like a firecracker. The incident also started a small fire in Hall’s apartment, which occurred in March.
The e-cig sent metal shards flying through the air. One sliced Hall’s hand and was bad enough to require stitches.
So what went wrong?
Gates Fire Chief Jim Harrington said that the explosion was inevitable given how some of these devices can operate. Another similar incident led to a man being hospitalized for a leg wound after he dropped an overheated e-cig.
“You have projectiles, you have shrapnel,” he explained to reporters. “You have hot materials which cause fires. The force of the explosion though small is very violent.”
The U.S. Fire Administration says that explosions are rare, but if they do occur they can be serious. They found that eight out of 10 explosions occurred while the e-cig’s battery was being charged.
Approximately 4 million Americans now use vapor cigarettes, according to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. Vaping, or using an e-cig, has even gone mainstream, with a number of vape shops opening up in Greece, Webster, Penfield, Fairport, Chili, and Gates.
According to Nick Obecanov, who works at Gates vape shop Perfection Vapes, Hall might not have been doing something safe with the device. “If you’re safe or if you follow some instructions, do some research, you won’t have that problem.”
Greg Bauman, owner of the Vape Shop in Greece, said that some of the batteries found in e-cigs aren’t even designed for the devices but for flashlights. And the chargers are also an issue.
“A lot of the chargers are not charging the battery at the manufacturer’s recommendation,” he said. “Some of the cheaper chargers will charge at a much faster rate which in return hurts the battery.”
This is backed up by the Fire Administration’s research, which found last October that, “Plugging an e-cigarette into a USB port or power adaptor not supplied by the manufacturer may subject the battery to a higher current than is safe.”
As for Hall, he concurs that things could have been worse. “I’m just really happy it didn’t blow up in my face,” he said.