BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Officials are warning people about the handling of the lithium-ion batteries that power electronic cigarette devices after at least two incidents in which Louisiana residents were injured.
The Office of the Louisiana State Fire Marshal reported a Baton Rouge man recently suffered second and third-degree burns on his leg and hand after putting a vaporizing device in his pocket. Officials said the man told investigators he hear a popping sound before feeling any heat. According to reports, the device contained a spare lithium-ion battery.
Investigators said they also learned of an earlier incident that was very similar in which a Houma man suffered serious burns on his leg after a lithium-ion battery exploded and caught fire while in his pocket.
"Initial findings of an on-going investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office into the cause(s) of the reported burns have pointed to the practice of placing loose lithium-ion batteries within close proximity to metal objects in confined spaces where there is potential for the objects, such as keys, coins, and vaping devices, to come into contact with the batteries," the fire marshal's office stated in a written release. "Once contact is made between the battery and metal, overheating can occur which, in turn, can cause batteries to release gases, which greatly increases the probability of ignition. Investigators have identified the suspected batteries involved in the Louisiana incidents as model '18650,' a 3.7 volt battery that is sold under various brand names."
Investigators added after checking with several hospital burn units, they learned "a surprising number of people" have been treated for burns from the devices. They noted those burns were less serious than the two previously mentioned.
Officials said research has shown people across the US have suffered burns from exploding batteries or fires in the devices. They said some of the victims were disfigured by the burns.
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