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Florida Man in Critical Condition After E-Cigarette Explodes in His Face

Nov 4, 2015

A 21-year-old Florida man has been placed in a medically induced coma after an e-cigarette blew up in his face.

Evan Spahlinger is in critical condition after family members found him on the floor covered in soot, FoxNews reports.

Spahlinger's sister was lying in bed with her 2-year-old son when she heard an explosion and "started smelling burning, smoke and fire," she told television news station WINK. Ema Richardson said she found her brother not breathing. His face and neck were burned and he was gasping, according to Spahlinger was first taken to a local hospital before being flown to a Miami hospital where doctors placed him in a coma to alleviate pain. His sister says he has both internal and external burns and damage to his lungs. She said the e-cigarette's mouthpiece may have gone down his throat and exploded again. Firefighters told WINK the explosion was likely caused by the device's lithium battery.

Lithium-ion batteries are also found in laptops and cell phones, but they are especially prone to overheating in e-cigarettes because smokers use incompatible chargers, or overcharge the e-cigarettes, Mother Jones magazine explains. Many e-cigarettes are made to plug into a USB port, but if left too long in a common USB port, the e-cigarette batteries can fry, the magazine says. In 2013, Thomas Kiklas, who represents the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, told NBC Chicago, "When you charge them, they are 99.9 percent safe, but occasionally there will be failures." In recent years there have been there have been a number of reports of injuries from e-cigarette explosions, including a 2012 incident in which a 57-year-old Florida Vietnam veteran lost teeth and part of his tongue when an e-cigarette exploded in his face. A California woman charging an e-cigarette in her car noticed that the battery was "dripping." When she tried to unscrew it, the battery shot fire and metal pieces at her and she suffered second-degree burns. The woman and her husband later sued the device's manufacturer, according to Mother Jones.

A Texas man suffered burns and smoke inhalation in 2013 when the e-cigarette he was charging with his MacBook shot across the room, Mother Jones reports. A Minnesota man had a similar experience when charging an e-cigarette with his computer. The owner of a local e-cigarette business said the battery did not have overcharge protection, which is likely why it overheated. A Utah child was burned when an e-cigarette being charged in the car exploded and a metal coil landed in the child's car seat.

In incidents in England in 2014, an 18-year-old woman serving a customer at a hotel bar was burned when a coworker's charging e-cigarette exploded. The young woman said her arm was burned and her dress caught on fire. In London, an incompatible e-cigarette charger caused a fire that took 40 minutes to get under control, the London Evening Standard reported. A firefighter told the newspaper, "As with all rechargeable electrical equipment, it's vitally important that people use the correct type of charger for their e-cigs to prevent fires which can be serious and could even result in death."

This year, the Local Government Association, which represents fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales, called on e-cigarette manufacturers to add warnings to packaging after over 100 fires have been caused by the devices over the past two years, the Independent reports.

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