Exploding e-cigarettes – nationwide safety alert issued by fire authorities after fresh spate of home fires
LGA media release 11 July 2015
A nationwide safety alert is being issued by fire authorities after a "highly disturbing" spate of fires caused by dodgy e-cigarette chargers which explode.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents all 49 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales, fears that these are the "tip of the iceberg" and many cases go unreported. The LGA has called for e-cigarette manufacturers to do more to warn of the dangers. This includes displaying prominent safety warnings, highlighting this issue, on e-cigarette packaging.
Fire chiefs say many blazes are taking place because some smokers are not using compatible chargers. This means too much currentgoes into the batteries and they overheat and eventually explode. Battery material shoots out – up to two to three metres in distance – and can cause a fire if it lands on anything combustible.
E-cigarettes have rocketed in popularity and are used by over two million Britons each year. Recent blazes involving e-cigarette chargers have been reported across the country. They include:
- A young mum who was forced to scoop up her sons and flee their home in terror as the flames engulfed her bedroom.
- Two e-cigarette batteries 'exploded' and started fires in two West Yorkshire homes in just 24 hours.
- An e-cigarette user in Merseyside, who popped out, returned to discover plumes of thick, black acrid smoke pouring from his ground-floor flat after a charger exploded and set the kitchen ablaze.
- A 62-year-old man died after an e-cigarette battery on charge exploded and ignited oxygen equipment he was believed to have been using.
Latest reported figures from fire services up and down the country reveal that since 2012 they have attended 113 calls to e-cigarette-related blazes. There were just eight call-outs in 2012 but this soared to 43 in 2013 and there were at least 62 in 2014. This means firefighters are now dealing with e-cigarette related incidents at more than one a week.
Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the LGA's Fire Services Management Committee, said: "The recent spate of fires connected with e-cigarettes is highly disturbing and we are issuing a nationwide alert to users to be vigilant at all times. We are warning them that it is simply not worth risking their lives to save a few pounds by buying dodgy, dangerous or incompatible chargers.
"Fire authorities all over the country are being called out more regularly to these types of incidents. Alarmingly, there is no way of knowing the true figure as we understand many cases are going unreported.
"Tragically, at least one life appears to have been claimed and more fatalities could follow unless users become more aware of the risks and take sensible precautions."
An e-cigarette user, who popped out to the shops, returned to discover plumes of thick, black acrid smoke pouring from his ground-floor flat after an e-cigarette charger exploded and set the kitchen ablaze.
An e-cigarette charger was left a charred and mangled mess, igniting clothes and a drawer. Only the quick-thinking of the flat occupier prevented a possible tragedy, said fire chiefs.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service issued safety advice about charging e-cigarettes after the death of a Merseyside man following a fire involving an e-cigarette. An e-cigarette that had been charging in the bedroom exploded and caught fire. An inquest into the man's death was held in October, 2014.
Merseyside Fire Service article
Two e-cigarette batteries 'exploded' and started fires in two West Yorkshire homes in just 24 hours. West Yorkshire Fire Service has warned it is now being called out to e-cigarette fires more than once a month. In an incident in Bradford, a battery exploded and "shot across the room", coming to rest at the foot of a wardrobe, which caught fire.
West Yorkshire Fire Service article
E-cigarette Safety Tips
E-cigarette users are advised to follow these safety tips when charging:
- Always use the correct charger and follow the manufacturer's instructions
- Never charge a battery that has signs of damage, that has been dropped, or has been subjected to impact
- Never plug a charger into a non-approved mains power transformer
- Check that your e-cigarette battery has overcharge or overheat protection
- Remove the battery from charge when complete – don't overcharge
- Never leave a battery on charge unattended
- Don't use if wet or exposed to water
- Do not over tighten the atomiser when connecting to charger
- Ensure that you dispose of batteries correctly.
8 September 2015
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