A British man celebrating New Years in Dubai with family and friends suffered severe and crippling burn injuries when his e-cigarette battery exploded inside his pants pocket.
Graham Tooby, who works as a photographer and videographer in the United Arab Emirates, said the e-cigarette explosion left him in excruciating pain and unable to work for two months.
Mr. Tooby and his wife Kathryn had gathered family and friends at their home for a New Year’s Eve celebration. They were in the garden when blue flames started shooting from his pocket and engulfing his leg.
“Without warning fireworks were coming from my pocket and we were all just trying to stop it,” Mr. Tooby said, according to The Daily Mail.
Mr. Tooby said the explosion and subsequent fire happened suddenly without warning. “It wasn’t as though the device heated up beforehand … It literally went from zero to blue flames and loud hissing sounds in seconds,” he said, according to The Daily Mail.
His brother-in-law doused the flames with water but the blaze persisted. “Lithium batteries don’t stop until they run out of energy,” he said.
After he was finally able to remove his pants, he found the exploding e-cigarette had severely scorched his upper right thigh, narrowly missing his genitals. Had his pocket been an inch to the right, the injuries might have been a lot more severe, he said, according to The Sun.
An ambulance rushed Mr. Tooby to Rashid Hospital in Dubai where he underwent surgery. Doctors removed the dead tissue from his thigh and cleaned the infection. Mr. Tooby also developed a blood infection and underwent two additional surgeries. Weeks after the incident, he had a skin graft in which surgeons removed skin from the back of his leg and transplanted it to the burned area in the front.
Mr. Tooby told UAE’s The National that he bought the e-cigarette while he was on vacation in France. And as bad as his burn injury was, he saw a multitude of ways that it could have been much worse. He was thankful that he wasn’t driving on the highway and that he wasn’t wearing a fabric that could have melted into his leg. He was also glad that his two sons, ages 5 and 6, weren’t there to witness the incident.
Mr. Tooby, who has not vaped since the explosion, advises people not to put e-cigarettes in their pockets “because they can go off like a rocket.” Instead, they should put them in a separate bag or purse, he said.
The UAE legalized the sale of vaping products there in April 2019.
Vaping is proliferating across the globe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people worldwide who vape soared from 7 million in 2011 to 41 million by 2018.
“It has been so traumatic and it has left us all so angry,” his wife, Kate, told The National. “He has not been able to work for seven weeks and it’s upset the children to see their dad in a wheelchair.”
Beasley Allen is currently investigating cases involving severe injuries caused by exploding e-cigarette devices and exploding e-cigarette batteries. These explosions have been linked to faulty e-cigarette products, defective lithium-ion batteries, and insufficient warnings for users. With few regulations to ensure their safety, e-cigarette devices have been aggressively marketed and sold in stores throughout the United States. Contact William Sutton in our Toxic Torts Section to discuss your claim.