Post courtesy of 12News.com
Location: Ogden, NY
Date Of Injury: May 2016
OGDEN, N.Y. — A 17-year-old was hospitalized Tuesday night when thee-cigarette he was puffing on exploded, burning his face, throat and hand cutting them with shards of metal.
Ryan Scholand of Ogden has a hole in the back of his throat, deep cuts on his hands and scars already forming on his upper lip.
He said he had just replaced the battery in the e-cig, a battery-powered device that simulates tobacco smoking by producing a heated vapor resembling smoke. When he pressed the ignition button to fire it up and release the Ghost Berry-flavored vapor, it exploded in his hand “like a bomb went off.”
“The second I pressed the fire button, it exploded,” said Ryan, a Spencerport High School senior. He said the battery base shot out like a projectile onto the floor while the aluminum upper-part of the frame shot into his throat.
“I immediately felt a really hot sense of smoke going down my throat. I immediately thought something was wrong with my throat, like something was in it,” he said. “I saw the burst and explosion take place, and I just threw the e-cig on the ground as it was still on fire.”
He surveyed the damage in the mirror: Blood that he said was “spewing” from his mouth and cuts. He then realized the device was still in flames on his basement floor so he threw a cloth to extinguish it. Then he ran upstairs to tell his mom.
“We heard a loud bang, and all of a sudden he comes flying in to the room and there is blood everywhere. I thought he’d been in a car accident,” Shannon Magna said. “He was just spitting up blood and spitting up blood.”
Ogden Police Chief Christopher Mears took possession of Ryan’s mangled e-cig, a device about 10 inches long when assembled and intact, and made of brass and aluminum. His officers went to Ryan’s house along with fire personnel shortly after 10 p.m. ET Tuesday and helped get him to the hospital.
Mears acknowledged that he had little knowledge of the devices because he never has had a problem with them before.
Ryan, who said he had did extensive research on the device before he bought it for $350 online less than a month ago, acknowledged that he was not completely sure why it exploded but believes it was a short circuit from a faulty battery and because the model he bought came without a chip to regulate energy current and heat.
“I took in the risk-reward aspect, and I thought this would be safe. But I guess not,” Ryan said.
It’s not the first e-cig explosion and fire in the Rochester, N.Y., area, and fire officials are growing concerned.
In Gates, N.Y., a couple years ago an individual burned his hand and a piece of carpet in his home when the e-cig caught fire, Deputy Fire Chief Alan Bubel said.
“I don’t want to see these becoming a common thing,” Bubel said. “But it is happening.”
A 2014 report from the U.S. Fire Administration called Electronic Cigarette Fires and Explosions warned of the increasing dangers of exploding e-cigs. At the time, the report estimated more than 2.5 million Americans were using e-cigs, and the number was growing rapidly.
E-cigarette use among both high school and middle school students tripled in one year, increasing from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2014 among high school students, and from 1.1% in 2013 to 3.9% in 2014 among middle school students, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth use of e-cigarettes has now surpassed use of all other tobacco products combined, including conventional cigarettes.
The Fire Administration report acknowledged that fires and explosions from e-cigarettes are rare, and said 25 separate incidents of explosions and fire involving an e-cigarette were reported in U.S. media between 2009 and August 2014.
The explosions and fire resulted in nine injuries and no deaths:
“The shape and construction of e-cigarettes can make them more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to behave like ‘flaming rockets’ when a battery fails,” the report reads.
The report blamed some of the fires on users charging the small, powerful lithium-ion batteries out of accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and using power sources not approved by the manufacturer. Ryan said that was not the case with his e-cig.
Even though Ryan has physical injuries, he said the most lasting injury might be mental.
He acknowledged he likely won’t use e-cigs for a while. He turned to them, in part, to help wean himself off chewing tobacco.
“I’ve broken bones before playing hockey, but this is honestly one of the more traumatic experiences because it just happened out of nowhere. It was literally like a bomb going off in my hand,” he said. “I think it scared me enough to step back for a while, if not totally abandon it.”
That is just fine with his mother, who doesn’t condone the use of the e-cig, but accepts it as a safer alternative to tobacco products.
“I don’t want him doing any of this stuff,” she said.
But until Tuesday night she was more concerned about cancer and emphysema.
“This isn’t something that would have been on the radar,” Magna said. “It’s a scary things that we don’t definitely want to live through again.”