Doctors warn over danger of exploding e-cigarettes

Burns surgeons are warning the public of the dangers of electronic cigarettes after several smokers were injured by the devices exploding.

The call is being echoed by fire chiefs and trading standards experts who are joining together to highlight the dangers of cheap or imported vaping kits.

Plastic surgeons at Morriston Hospital's Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery in Swansea said they had treated five patients for burns after batteries in e-cigarettes exploded.

"Before this year we hadn't seen any injuries like this. Now we have had five which reflects the rising popularity of these e-cigarettes," said consultant plastic surgeon Dai Nguyen.

Three of those injured had their devices in their trouser pockets when they exploded.

A factory worker suffered thigh and groin injuries as well as burns to his hand when he tried to put out the fire after it exploded in his pocket.

Surgeons were so concerned they contacted trading standards and wrote a paper highlighting the cases and calling for tougher import regulations on e-cigarettes,and more guidance for consumers.

Consumers are being urged to take care when buying a new e-cigarette. Credit: PA

"It's not just us, this is something that is starting to be highlighted nationwide. I think we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg," Dr Nguyen said.

"I suspect a lot of A&E departments may also be dealing with these incidents and we're just not aware of them."

While the patients she has seen have only suffered superficial burns, she said some people have not been so lucky.

"I am aware of other cases which have required surgery and skin grafts," Dr Nguyen said.

"There have also been reports of e-cigarettes exploding in people's mouths which resulted in catastrophic injuries similar to those you would experience if you were shot in the face by a gun."

Swansea Council trading standards officer David Picken warned customers to take care when buying.

"These chargers have not been constructed to the correct safety standards and are often counterfeit," he said.

"Take additional care when buying online. Consider carefully if the cheapest is the best, particularly when the goods are coming directly to you from a business outside of the UK and EU."

He said customers should look for a visible CE mark, make sure it is labelled correctly, and ask the shop to confirm it is from a reputable source.