If you ask someone about exploding batteries, their first response will likely be related to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7. The handset and its recall were the biggest tech story of the year - possibly the last several years – and is a reminder of how volatile these lithium-ion components can be.
Reports state that it was immense pressure placed on the Note 7’s battery that caused it to explode. But rechargeable lithium-ion batteries can also be a danger when outside of a device, as the CCTV footage above shows.
The video comes from a store in the Trinity Shopping Center, Leeds, UK. It shows an electronic cigarette battery igniting in a man’s pocket as he stood just inches away from a baby’s pram.
The local fire service said the explosion was caused when the man’s spare e-cigarette battery came into contact with a metal item in his pocket, possibly keys or coins, causing a short circuit. He needed first aid treatment afterward, but escaped with “slight injuries.”
The incident took place on September 19, but the West Yorkshire Fire Service only released the footage yesterday. "This is not the first time we have seen injuries caused by a lithium-ion battery exploding whilst being carried in someone’s pocket,” said fire investigator Jamie Lister. “There does not need to be a fault with the battery; the problem is the incorrect storage of the batteries.”
As an ever-increasing number of electronic devices are using lithium-ion batteries, Lister said incidents like these are becoming increasingly common. "There has been a marked increase in the number of fires we have seen, attributable to the incorrect storage of batteries.”
"The use of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is now commonplace in modern society and that's why we want people to be vigilant because a simple mistake could have a devastating consequence," he said.
E-cigarette users have been advised to carry batteries in a plastic case to prevent them from short-circuiting. Last month, CCTV cameras caught the moment an e-cig exploded in the pocket of a nightclub owner in France.