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According to recent news reports, another person has fallen victim to a dangerous e-cigarette explosion. This time, however, the victim was tragically killed.

The U.S. Fire Administration found that between 2009 and 2016, there were 195 explosions and fires involving e-cigarettes, resulting in 133 acute injuries, 38 of which were severe. ECigOne.com stated that as of January 2017, there had been at least 214 e-cigarette explosions reported in the media and in forums. Most explosions occurred when the products were charging, but some occurred during use, causing devastating injuries.

(Chart) E-Cigarette Fires & Explosions
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

E-Cigarette Explosions Causes Death

Authorities found a Florida man, who was only 38 years old, deceased in his St. Petersburg home. They responded to a fire alarm and found the victim with a “wound to his top lip area and areas of burns to his body,” according to CNN. The burns were later found to cover about 80 percent of his body, including his chest, shoulder, abdomen, back, arm, and hand.

An autopsy determined that the cause of death was a projectile wound to the head. The projectile was a section of an e-cigarette manufactured by Smok-E Mountain. The man’s father told ABC News that the incident was a “terrible shock,” and that he and the man’s mother were “devastated.”

Lithium-Ion Batteries in E-cigarettes May Short Circuit

Often, an e-cigarette explosion is caused by a defective lithium-ion battery. These batteries pack a lot of power into a small space, which makes them very popular. But, if the manufacturer fails to implement appropriate safeguards or if there is a manufacturing defect, a short circuit and an explosion can result.

Inside each lithium-ion battery is a “separator” that keeps the electrodes from touching. But if that separator fails, the electrodes can come into contact with one another and a short circuit can result, which in turn can cause overheating. Lithium-ion batteries also include flammable material that can increase fire and explosion risks.

Smok-E Mountain E-Cigarette Lacking Safety Features

This particular e-cigarette is a type of vape pen called a mechanical mod. These are designed differently than other e-cigarettes, as they give users “more direct access to the battery,” according to the New York Times, and “do not use inner circuitry to regulate the voltage.” In other words, the device draws power directly from the battery without regulating voltage. This product, therefore, lacks some common safety features built into other e-cigarettes.

Other individuals have suffered serious injuries because of e-cigarette explosions, but this is believed to be the first death associated with the products. The U.S. Fire Administration states that the devices’ shape and construction make them more likely to behave like “flaming rockets” when the battery fails. Consequences can be “devastating and life-altering for victims.”

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