Vape Injuries

Posted 31st December 2017 by Dave Cross
In a new paper, published in the American Association for Hand Surgery journal, doctors report on the horrific and devastating impact a vape battery accident can have. It comes in the same week as another vaper reports an explosion knocking his teeth out. Given that these events continue to happen, POTV asks whether it will ever be possible to prevent them?

In “Extensive hand thermal and blast injury from electronic explosion”, doctors Satteson, Walker, Tuohy, and Molnar detail “the case of a 35-year-old man sustaining extensive thermal and blast injuries to his hand when the device exploded while he was holding it.”

They report that the patient required multiple surgeries. The treatment included taking a groin flap sample to cover the injury. Plus, they had to carry out a tendon transfer, and then a complicated nerve grafting in order to return the semblance of pre-injury operation.

They detail that the surgeries were successful in that much (but not all) of his hand function has been restored. The patient continues to be limited in range of motion the hand can make - and has lost a lot of his sense of touch.

The team state that they are seeing increasing numbers of incidents where batteries have vented in devices that go on to explode. They note that such blast mechanism involve deep soft tissue injury and disruption of deep structures, and it is important that other surgeons do not forget to look for them when operating.

As if to ram the point home, a man from Hawaii suffered extensive facial injuries last week, after the device he was using exploded in his mouth.


Matt Yamashita lost four teeth in the incident, and has over forty stitches in place holding his mouth together. He said: “I just got out my car and I was ready to play basketball, but I just wanted to take a few puffs of vape before I played. As soon as I took that first rip, it just blew up in my face.”

“My right hand was burning, it was black. I just heard loud ringing in both my ears and I just saw a flash then I was spitting out blood and I was just in shock.”

The cause of the explosion was a short in the mechanical mod he used, creating thermal runaway in the lithium-ion cell powering it. The venting gases failed to escape safely, building up pressure inside the metal tube, until it became great enough to explode.

Knowing that this happens, and the causes, hasn’t prevented it occurring repeatedly year after year. Some are ignorant about safe use, others count themselves knowledgeable but unlucky. The question has to be posed: what can the vape community do to reduce the chances of further incidents?

Corner stores who make their money from cigalikes and old Evod-style devices do generally not sell mechanical mods. Mods like these tend to come from specialist vape vendors – and checking a mod has safe venting built in is a very easy thing to check. Is it time vendors stopped selling unsafe devices or does the duty of care still remain with customers who might experience a catastrophic turn of events?

Photos - Matt Yamashita

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
Legion of Vapers