Vape pens catch fire on airplanes. Here’s how to stay protected.


When we fly, there’s a small threat {that a} battery powering our telephones or laptops may begin a harmful fire on board.

But the commonest supply of battery-related fires in airplane journey is stunning: vape pens.

A security group that tracks airline battery incidents grew so involved that it just lately flagged the vaping fire pattern to the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees digital smoking units.

On July 20, 2018 an e-cigarette battery burst into flames when going by a safety checkpoint at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. (Video: Transportation Security Administration by way of Storyful)

On common within the United States, there are greater than two reviews every week of battery-related fires, smoke or comparable incidents on planes or at airports, in accordance to voluntary reporting by passenger and cargo airways.

That’s tiny in contrast with the a number of hundred thousand passenger flights every week.

Air journey could be very protected. But current high-profile airplane mishaps mixed with the small however rising variety of battery-related fires could make it unnerving to fly.

I’ll stroll you thru the risks of battery fires in flight, why vape pens are a number one trigger and what we will do to preserve each other protected.

Yes, e-cigarette batteries can catch fire

Vaping units are powered by lithium-ion batteries, like these in smartphones, wi-fi earbuds and most different rechargeable units.

Generally, the fire threat is decrease from smaller batteries, like these in vape pens and electrical toothbrushes, than from bigger ones in laptops, e-bikes and electrical vehicles. Any lithium-ion battery fire, although, can unfold rapidly.

Last yr, about 35 p.c of battery-related fire or smoke incidents reported by airways have been brought on by vape pens, in accordance to information compiled by the protection nonprofit UL Standards & Engagement.

That’s at the very least double the share of battery-related fires from different main sources — transportable energy banks and telephones.

Since extra of us are schlepping telephones on board than vape pens, the numbers recommend the danger is comparatively increased from a vape pen.

The variety of battery fire incidents could be very small. And the Federal Aviation Administration, which has a separate database of battery-related issues, exhibits that the majority overheating e-cigarettes are contained with out hurt.

But airplanes are a singular setting. If one thing goes incorrect with a battery-powered system on board, it may go very incorrect.

How to cut back the danger of in-flight battery fires

Don’t pack e-cigarettes or different battery-powered units in your checked baggage. Airlines inform you this, however folks might not know the foundations or neglect that they packed a vape pen or transportable battery in a suitcase that will get gate-checked.

The threat is that nobody will see a fire that begins within the baggage maintain earlier than it grows uncontrolled.

Don’t cost vape pens on board the airplane. It’s not allowed. Take that rule critically. There’s usually a better fire threat when a battery is charging.

Last yr, a Spirit Airlines flight to Orlando made an emergency touchdown due to a fire from a vape pen that was charging in an overhead bin.

A reminder: You’re not allowed to smoke on planes. That consists of e-cigarettes.

Tell a flight attendant or different personnel instantly for those who see smoke or fire. Airline crews have particular coaching and fire containment baggage for battery-powered devices.

The quicker passengers discover {that a} battery-powered system is overheating, bulging or catching fire, the higher the possibility the danger is contained.

Keep your vape pen inside arm’s attain. And deal with it gently. Eric Soule, an East Carolina University professor who focuses on e-cigarettes and public well being, believes vacationers with vape pens may smush a bag into the overhead bin and never notice the activation button may very well be pressed by chance. That may trigger a fire.

In flight or wherever, Soule stated, “People need to know where their e-cigarettes are at all times.”

If you retain a vape pen in your pocket and the battery overheats, get it away out of your physique rapidly. People are burned that method.

If your vaping system has an on/off change, flip it off earlier than you set it in your pocket or a bag.

Also, for those who crunch your cellphone or vape pen in your airplane seat mechanism, inform the flight crew. A broken battery will increase the potential fire threat.

What’s past your private management. E-cigarettes exist in a regulatory grey space. Many units you should purchase should not approved by the FDA and basically unlawful.

Dave Wroth with UL Standards & Engagement stated the group is anxious that common however unauthorized kinds of disposable vape pens might lack efficient battery security mechanisms.

The American Vapor Manufacturers Association, an trade commerce group, stated that if the FDA authorised extra vaping merchandise, there could be fewer battery security issues from unlawful units. (Anti-tobacco teams might not like that.)

The FDA final yr proposed new manufacturing necessities for e-cigarettes, together with their batteries.

“The FDA remains committed to protecting the public health by ensuring the regulation of tobacco products, including efforts to address e-cigarette products catching fire or exploding,” the company stated.

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