A West Michigan teenager suffered severe burns after his after his e-cigarette batteries exploded in his pocket. Now, he wants others to be aware of the dangers of vaping.
“A guy yelled at me and said, ‘hey, you’re on fire’”, says Spencer Boeske, 18, of Caledonia.
On Monday morning, he put four e-cigarette batteries in his pocket, along with some loose change. “I was at work, getting a drink of water. I walked away and felt static electricity, like the shock you get. That’s what I felt it in my leg,” he said.
Boeske’s pants were on fire. “So, my immediate reaction is to undo my belt and get my pants off as fast as I could.”
Spencer now has 1st and 2nd degree burns down his leg. It’s a lesson he learned the hard way. He had no idea the same thing was happening across the country with e-cigarette batteries. According to FEMA, there have been 195 fires and explosions since 2009. Just last week, a battery in one of the devices may have exploded, killing a 38-year-old Florida man.
“I want everybody to know to just be cautious. Understand that it can happen to you too. I didn’t think it could happen to me”, says Boeske.
The fires and explosions happen when a lithium ion battery overheats. The FDA has a safety guide on its website. It also asks consumers to report any problems.
“The fact that it was loose change and batteries. I would’ve never guessed that could’ve ignited something in my pocket.”
Right now, there are no federal safety regulations on e-cigarettes or batteries. Because of that, manufacturers don’t have to report hazards or injuries or put warning labels on products. Spencer would like to see that change. Like many others, he started smoking e-cigarettes in high school because it was a fad. This week, the FDA announced a major crackdown on the vaping industry aimed at curbing sales to young people. The agency says it is also looking at setting safety standards.