A young man in the United Kingdom developed serious burns after his vape pen exploded in his pocket, according to news reports.
The man, 24-year-old Will Hawksworth, was driving home from the store when the batteries in his vape pen (also known as an e-cigarette) apparently exploded and set his jacket on fire, according to Fox News.
"By the time I stopped [the car], I was pretty much engulfed in flames," Hawksworth said.
Hawksworth's car went up in flames while he and his girlfriend waited nearby for help. When Hawksworth reached the hospital, he was diagnosed with second- and third-degree burns on his chest and abdomen.
E-cigarette explosions appear to be rare, but they are very dangerous, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The exact cause of these explosions isn't clear, but some evidence suggests that issues with the devices' batteries may play a role.
To help prevent these explosions, the FDA recommends that users avoid charging their e-cigarette overnight or leaving the device unattended while charging; avoid using cellphone or tablet chargers with the devices; replace vape pen batteries if they get damaged or wet; and protect the device from extreme hot or cold temperatures, such as by not leaving it in direct sunlight or in a cold or hot car for long periods.
Now, months after the explosion, Hawksworth says the skin on his chest tends to become irritated and turn bright red when exposed to heat. But "it could have ended so much worse. I feel lucky to be alive," he said.
Hawksworth started vaping when he was 19, but he doesn't plan to continue. "'ll never go near a vape pen ever again. They are lethal," he said.
In June, doctors reported the case of a teenage boy who was seriously injured when an e-cigarette exploded in his mouth, breaking his jaw.
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Originally published on Live Science.
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Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.