Bangers and Smash

Posted 2nd December 2015 by Dave Cross
Advert click-through driven media loves a good disaster story but how does it help people avoid repeating the events? In general, it doesn’t but then that doesn’t seem to fall into most editorial departments’ remit. We look at a couple of typical tales and add our advice for new vapers.

An inadequate charger causes a recharging cell to vent inside a car. It’s old news to most of us but it was a shock to Jeremy Markle as he watched his a battery burn his girlfriend’s hands in his car. “It was an instant flash. I mean, the battery just instantly started glowing red, it was like a blacksmith heating metal - just glowing.”

Who should we point the finger at? Some might insult Markle for not knowing better but the media (ignoring every Fire service officer’s press release) rounded on Efest. Quite why they should be asking the battery rewrapping company for a comment is not clear. Lithium ion batteries can vent if stressed during charging or discharge whether they are in vaping devices, laptop computers or cellphones. But then this li-ion cell was being used for vaping and vaping disaster stories are sexy for editors who want their pages shared on social media.

Like vultures, so many news sites covered Cordero Caples’ story. The Memphis man made their day by severely injuring himself while vaping. Some said he was a student, some claim he had the accident at work but they all managed to get in a gruesome image of him lying in his hospital bed.

The volume of graphic images from the ward stands in stark contrast to the lack of comment from any medical source. It also juxtaposes against the dearth of accurate information about the incident. The public are led to believe that it could be anybody this happens to – that all vaping devices are ticking time bombs. But this is not so.

“Caples is in critical condition with a shattered vertebrae. He have [SIC] to have surgery to give himself [SIC] a chance to walk again. He also has multiple fractures, a hole in his mouth, and a broken neck,” wrote one site. An ecig broke this man’s neck? People should be told.

Only this is not the case. Caples was using a cheap hybrid available on any number of Chinese clone sites, the type of purchase that is made with no advice being offered and no responsibility taken. He then used a popular style of sub-ohm tank, which doesn’t have a sufficiently long positive 510 connection. The inevitable short circuit caused the battery to vent. His serious spinal injuries resulted from a non-reported fall not from the device – although his face has looked prettier.

But, again, rather than look to lack of knowledge or poor use of a li-ion cell everyone wants to gaze abroad: “The accused maker of the e-cigarette that exploded is based in China.”

It is what makes the coverage by 12KFVS a breath of fresh air, in an article dedicated to vapers needing to be cognisant of the potential for things to go wrong. “The main thing is,” said a local vape storeowner, “know what you’re dealing with. Do research if at all possible, there is some science that goes behind this.”

We say to new vapers:

  • Do not use cheap or fake battery chargers
  • Do not use cheap or fake batteries
  • Do not use hybrid mechanical mods unless you know what you are doing
  • Do not use sub-ohm tanks with hybrid mechanical mods
  • Keep batteries separate from each other and other conducting objects in a suitable insulated container.

A good regulated device (one with a screen and buttons to change the voltage/wattage) will provide protection in use and while recharging. Reliable vendors are happy to advise you or talk to people on the POTV forum.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker