Mark Stockdale was in shock after his electronic cigarette exploded in his child’s bedroom. “I plugged it into my iPhone charger and, in ten minutes time, it exploded,” he said.
“I dread to think what could have happened if I’d left it charging and gone out or if we’d been asleep. It could’ve killed us and gutted our home.”
Mark Rolfe, from Kent County Council Trading Standards, said: “The number of unsafe chargers appearing on the market has grown quite alarmingly, and we are keen to work with all of our partners to ensure that the public understand that you use the right charger.”
The KFRS were called to the house in London Road to find that fortunately the fire was already out. Firefighters treated Mr Stockdale for burns to his fingers and palm.
A month previously, a house in Sheerness caught fire in a similar incident – prompting Charlie Smith, KFRS community safety manager, to comment: “If your New Year’s resolution is to quit smoking and you’re using an e-cigarette to help you, please make sure you know how to charge it safely.”
“You might save a few pounds if you buy cheap or incompatible chargers but is it really worth putting your family or home at risk? If your e-cigarette doesn't come with a charger, please don't assume that your USB cables can be transferred between devices. Chargers for mobile phones are often more powerful, so can overheat.”
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service have been carrying out a similar raising awareness campaign following more than 100 related fires in the West Midlands.
Both services are putting out the following messages:
- Check your smoke alarm every week.
- Only use the charger supplied with your e-cigarette and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If no charger is supplied check with the manufacturer or vendor for a list of approved chargers.
- Read the instructions on how to clean the battery centre pin and charger contact.
- Don’t leave it charging overnight, unattended or charging on flammable surfaces such as a bed or sofa.
- Don’t over-tighten the battery – especially when charging.
- Never charge a battery that has signs of damage, that has been dropped, or has been subjected to impact.
- Never plug a charger into a non-approved mains power transformer.
- Check that your e-cigarette battery has overcharge or overheat protection.
- Remove the battery from charge when complete – don’t over charge.
- Don’t use if wet or exposed to water.
- Ensure that you dispose of batteries correctly.
- Always have a working smoke alarm in your home.