Vape users warned about potential explosions or fire if they use wrong batteries

Sophie Gallagher
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Vape and e-cigarette users have been warned by the government to only use batteries or charging devices that are recommended by manufacturers to avoid accidents.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) and Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) say that failure to do so could potentially cause fire risks or even explosions.

The warning comes as the number of people using the smoking-devices grows rapidly: between 5.4 and 6.2 per cent of all adults in Britain now use a vape or e-cigarette.

This equates to between 14.9 and 18.5 per cent of current smokers.

The campaign has been launched following a series of incidents that have seen devices catch fire, including one that exploded in a teenager’s mouth leaving him with shattered teeth.

Another incident in 2018 saw a man in Florida die when his vape exploded and gave him 80 per cent body burns.

The London Fire Brigade said they attend an average of 24 fires per week caused by batteries, cables or chargers.

Many vapes and e-cigarettes are powered by 18650-style batteries, which are slightly larger than the common AA battery.

The OPSS and CTSI have said that these batteries are widely available to purchase but that consumers should be vigilant about checking the voltages.

They have also urged users to solely use the charger supplied with the device, and not a phone charger or other equivalent.

Product safety lead officer at CTSI, Mark Gardiner, said: “There have been numerous reports of hazardous failure modes of the devices containing these batteries, resulting in serious injury and also death.

“Where products are supplied with the battery already installed, the manufacturer of this device has generally added a battery management system to ensure safe charging and discharging.”

Gardiner said that problems can arise when “unsuitable batteries”are either used by the retailer before the point of sale or consumers put in an unsuitable replacement without realising.

Both the London Fire Brigade and OPSS have also said vape and e-cigarette users should not charge devices overnight.

“It’s important when replacing a battery that you check what type of battery you have and if manufacturers say it is safe for vape use,” added Gardiner.

The OPSS also advised that vape and e-cigarette users should unplug the device when it is fully charged and keep spare batteries away from metal items which could cause a short circuit.