In Albertville, Alabama, a 10th grade student noticed his e-cigarette case was getting hot. He took it out of his pocket and placed it on a nearby desk where it promptly exploded. He escaped injury but a nearby student wasn’t so lucky. He was hospitalized with burns to his face and neck.
The event at Albertville High School in Albertville, Alabama, highlights two major issues with e-cigarettes: access and safety. Young people are using e-cigarettes and vaping devices at an alarming rate. Contrary to public opinion and advertising, e-cigarettes contain more than “just water vapor,” and they should not become a fad to replace smoking. Moreover, the devices—particularly the batteries—are not safe. This injury was not life-threatening but others are far worse. Prior e-cigarette victim Gregory Phillips suffered first and second degree burns, a concussion, and a fractured cheek bone. More recently Leor Domatov was blinded and seriously burned as a result of an e-cigarette explosion during a demo at a vaping kiosk. Phillips was 23 years old; Domatov only 14. And now the explosions are happening in school—a place where parents think their children are relatively safe. Kids are not supposed to have access to cigarettes or smoking devices—the laws prevent it and in this case, so do the school rules. Access is an issue, but safety is a far greater one.
Two more incidents occurred within a week of the Albertville explosion. In Paso Robles, CA, Daniel McClelland, 17, was sitting in his car listening to music and laughing with friends when his e-cigarette exploded. He was airlifted to a burn unit and the debris from the explosion knocked out teeth and burned a hole through his tongue. Daniel had switched to e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. Ryan Scholand of Ogden, UT, suffered injuries when he put his e-cigarette into his mouth and pressed the ignition device. The explosion burned a hole into the back of his throat and caused serious cuts and burns. Despite his pain, Ryan, 17, had to extinguish the still burning vape device to prevent the house from burning down.
The facts are that e-cigarettes are not safe. The chemicals that are emitted are destructive to lung tissue and the battery components are defective—or else they wouldn’t be exploding. The examples we see are only those publicized because of the severity of injuries. It’s very likely that more devices are malfunctioning and that people are suffering other injuries—perhaps even undiscovered ones. For now, talk to your kids about the dangers of vaping and if you or someone you know has been injured as a result of an e-cigarette or vaping device, immediately seek medical attention and then find an experienced attorney for advice.