How Do Vape Pens Explode?
Vape pens contain lithium-ion batteries with two electrodes: a cathode and an anode. A film separates these two components, and contains a combustible liquid electrolyte. In the event a battery overheats, it can ignite the electrolyte, rupture, and cause an explosion.
When such an explosion occurs, flying debris can cause serious injuries to a user’s eyes, neck, and mouth. Although vape pens can explode while they are being used or held, they often shatter when they are stored, charged, or kept in a pocket.
Vape Pen Tragedy
In February 2019, William Brown, a 24-year-old Dallas man, lost his life as a result of an exploding vape pen. He was in the car with his grandmother when his device popped, exploded, and shot across his mouth.
The faulty battery melted plastic from the car to the vape pen. Brown’s face was then covered with debris, and he was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital, where he passed away two days later.
X-rays revealed that the vape pen tore Brown’s carotid artery, and that the metal was embedded to where the blood flows to the brain. Brown wasn’t a regular smoker, but he purchased the vape pen after he was told it might improve his asthma.
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How to Prevent Vape Pen Explosions
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compiled a list of safety tips that can help consumers prevent vape pen explosions. Some of this advice includes never using a phone charger to charge a vape pen, storing loose batteries in a case and ensuring they don’t come into contact with metal objects, and refraining from charging a vape overnight.
In addition, the FDA added a feature to their website to allow consumers to report incidents with vape pens that prompt fires or explode. It is vital to understand that the manufacturers of these devices have a legal duty to create products that contain safe chemicals and batteries that are fully functional. They can be held liable if a vape pen features a flaw that leads to an explosion and injury.
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What to Do if Your Vape Pen Explodes
If your vape pen explodes, it’s important that you take the following steps to protect your health and rights:
- Preserve the evidence – You should save the vape pen itself, as well as its charger and instructions, damaged items, and clothes you were wearing at the time of the incident, as they can serve as valuable evidence down the road.
- Obtain contact information of witnesses – If you were around other people when your device exploded, ask them for their names and phone numbers. Their account of what happened may support you if you choose to file a product liability claim.
- Visit a doctor – Immediately after a vape pen explosion, you should seek medical attention. A doctor can take x-rays and inform you of your injuries, and the treatments you may need. Make sure to keep any medical records or documentation.
- Determine whether any video surveillance captured the explosion – If the vape pen explosion occurred in a public place, there might be video surveillance that captured it. Find out if there is video that can serve as a strong piece of evidence if you choose to pursue a claim.
- Report the incident to the FDA – Go to the FDA’s website and file a report. Doing so can help the agency address the serious and growing issue of vape pen explosions and fires.
- Reach out to an experienced product liability attorney – A lawyer can help you determine who is at fault for the explosion, and they may be able to help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.