A man was badly burnt and left with scars on his leg after a vape exploded in his pocket when it came into contact with his keys.
Fortunately for contractor Richard Bingham, he was at Whittington Hospital in Upper Holloway working when the accident happened and was immediately rushed to A&E for treatment.
Now the 37-year-old has joined London Fire Brigade in supporting an Office for Product and Safety Standards campaign which launches today (Monday) to highlight the potential dangers of using vapes.
The dad-of-one said: “I could hear a hissing and popping and I was looking around asking what it was. Then it stopped and all of a sudden I felt this heat in my pocket and I knew straight away what was happening.
“I was trying to get my vape out of my pocket but it was burning my hand so I couldn’t get it out. Everyone was helping me as I was trying to get my boots undone so I could get my trousers off but it was too late – I was already badly burnt. Hospital staff were coming out and pouring water over my leg.
“It all happened so quickly but I have never felt pain like it. I can laugh about it now but I’ve never been so scared – it was like a bomb going off in my pocket.”
Richard suffered third-degree burns on his left leg and also had blistering to his hand where he’d tried to retrieve the vape. Luckily, he didn’t need to have skin grafts but he has been left with bad scarring and says it could have been even worse if he hadn’t happened to be working in a hospital at the time of the incident last summer.
The Brigade’s fire investigators believe the keys in Richard’s pocket may have caused the vape’s battery to short-circuit.
Ironically, Richard’s girlfriend works in a vape shop but he wasn’t aware that coming into contact with metal items could lead to them exploding.
Richard added: “I’ve been vaping for about four years and seen videos of them exploding but you just don’t expect it to go off like that. I must have been lucky as I’ve always had change or keys in my pocket – I just don’t think people are aware of the dangers.
“I did try to give up and haven’t been able to, but I’m so careful now. I’ve got one of the cases to keep everything in and I never carry my vape around with me and if I see other people vaping I walk away.”
Although the Brigade has thankfully only attended a handful of incidents involving vape batteries, firefighters do have concerns about the near misses which haven’t been reported to us.
The Brigade’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: “Compared to the number of fires we see caused by cigarettes, vaping could be seen as a much safer option.
“However, we are concerned that there are often cases such as Richard’s where the batteries have short-circuited and gone out but there is a very real potential of them starting a serious fire.
“If you are using vaping products it’s vital you only use the charger it was supplied with and never overcharge it.”
Vape safety tips
- Only use the charger that was supplied with the vape for charging. Don’t charge your vape overnight and regularly check your device when it is charging. Unplug your vape when it is fully charged.
- Charge your vape on a clean, flat surface and away from anything that can easily catch fire. Ensure you can clearly see your vape when it is charging and never cover devices or chargers as they may overheat
- Ensure that you read and follow the safety instructions, markings or warnings on or supplied with the vape. Contact the manufacturer if you have any further questions or if your vape wasn’t supplied with instructions.
- Consider using vape devices with safety features and don’t remove or disable safety features.
- Only use genuine and recommended batteries for your vaping device. Don’t let your battery encounter metal items. Store removable and spare batteries in a plastic case to prevent accidental contact. Keep batteries out of the reach of children.
- Regularly inspect your vape batteries and replace your battery immediately if it is damaged, leaking or not functioning properly. Dispose of batteries at recycling or disposal points.
- Protect your vape from extreme temperatures by not leaving it in direct sunlight or in your car on a freezing cold night.
For more information please visit: www.london-fire.gov.uk