Man Gets Second Degree Burns After E-Cigarette Explodes In His Pants
Jay Dawson February 7th 2017 Technology
As an alternative to regular cancer sticks, and as the new statement in millennial chic, e-cigarettes have taken the world by storm. No matter where you go, you're bound to find a vape shop that's profiting from the massive trend. But how good are they, really? Sure, they might avoid lung diseases, but are they really that safe to use? This video might well be the definitive answer to that question. And the results will shock and disgust you...
It May Look Funny To You
Meet Otis Gooding, a 31-year-old man from Queens, NYC. He's a man not normally known for his humor, or his dancing skills. So imagine his co-workers' surprise when in the middle of a shift he busted into a long and seemingly comic dance routine. Complete with pyrotechnics. But this was no ordinary flashdance. Otis was actually doing it interpretive style, and trying to act out his extreme pain.
Suddenly, without warning, his e-cigarette has exploded in his pocket, setting off a chain reaction that had him reeling around the store. As funny as it looks, this is a video of a man fighting off a fire that could take his life. What had begun as a normal Thanksgiving Day last year ended up with him in hospital, suffering from horrific burns to his legs and arms. Which usually doesn't happen at the club.
This Is A Dance Of Pain
The culprit: an e-cigarette he had in his pocket. The outcome: extreme agony. These are just miniature devices, but they sure do pack a punch. And once they begin, they just keep firing and firing. With a hole blown out of his pocket and his pants on fire, quitting his nicotine was the last of Otis's problems. The first priority was to douse the not metaphorical, very literal fire in his loins.
The thing about e-cigarettes is not only that they're filled with highly corrosive chemicals, but that they're literally designed to heat up. When that nicotine solution breaks out of its protection, when an e-cigarette explodes, you'd be doused with a liquid far beyond scalding point. And unlike hot water, this stuff is packed with all kinds of industrial oddities, and designed to burn for a long time.
The Scene Of The Self-Crime
All this went down in the most public place imaginable: Grand Central Station in New York. Otis works at the Central Wine Cellar, a fine liquor store tucked away between tracks 16 and 17. It's a popular place for travelers to pick up a bottle of something, and Otis had been working there happily for just over a year. On this particular morning, at 10am, he had been only an hour into his shift when everything took a turn for the worse.
Given that it was Thanksgiving, Grand Central was packed with families and couples arriving and departing for some holiday cheer. The store itself already had a few customers inside when Otis, behind the cashier's desk, burst into flames. As he reeled around the store, they could do nothing to help except alert the authorities, and stare in utter shock...
Is That A Firecracker In Your Pocket?
At first, Otis, his fellow employees, and the customers in the store had no idea what had happened. Imagine if there was a sudden explosion while you were working or shopping - the first thing you'd consider in this day and age was some kind of attack. It was an attack alright, only not from any outside source. The attack came from Otis's electronic vaping device, which was waging war on his most sensitive areas.
His first reaction is disbelief, but this soon turns into action. He flaps and dances across the shop while attempting to remove the offending article from his pocket. It's so hot, though, that he simply can't reach it. All he can do is try to put it out, even as it explodes again and again, lashing agony onto his poor body, and as battery after battery adds fuel to the fire...
Complete And Utter Shock
Even if Otis can't do anything for himself, you would think that at least the people around him could. But like we said before, this whole scenario was like a nightmare to both the other employees and the general public. No-one really knew what to do. Sure, a few vaguely thoughtful souls ran out to get help, but by the time they returned the damage had been done.
Part of the problem was, of course, that Otis kept on exploding. Nobody could really get near him, even if they wanted to. Not only that, Otis was staggering erratically around the room in pain, seemingly evading any kind of help before it could get to him. If you do want to prepare for the next time an e-cig explodes in your general vicinity, this video is a pretty great introduction as to what not to do.
It Lands Him In Hospital
Finally, the flames went out and the vaper was spent. But the injuries that remained told a horrific tale. He had received second-degree burns to a huge part of his leg, and a whole chunk of flesh on his right thigh had simply burnt away. Likewise, his right hand - which he was using to try and contain the conflagration - was raw and burnt down to the muscle. Burns laced his arms and fingers, and his extremities were reduced to a blackened, sooty, and charred crisp.
Otis Gooding was immediately rushed to the burns unit of the Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York to be treated. Although he remained in a stable condition, he was in extreme agony for the next few days. Eventually he had to undergo massive skin grafts on major sections of his body. He would never be the same again.
How Could This Possibly Happen?
This is the burning question, if you'll excuse the pun: how on earth could this possibly happen? How could an e-cigarette explode like that? The answer, it seems, is not totally in the e-cigarette itself but with the batteries that they contain. The culprit is one that has been causing problems all over town: the dreaded lithium-ion.
See, lithium-ion batteries are packed full of power, making them perfect for small devices such as phones, laptops, tablets, and e-cigarettes. The problem is - and we'd all know this from the Galaxy Note 7 saga - that they're also highly volatile. They don't respond well to heat, overcharging, or sudden electrical shorting. Which is what happens when you carry around spare Li-Ion batteries and they accidentally rub together or rub up against something else metallic. Which is, most likely, what happened to Otis Gooding.
This Isn't The First Case
And in fact, this kind of thing seems to be happening more and more often. Whether from electrical shorting or overheating, e-cigarette incidents have been on a terrifying rise. In the last seven years alone, they've been responsible for over 30 horrific accidents, simply by being misused or put in the wrong place.
Two incidents in Canada - both in Alberta - left their e-cigarette owners with second- and third-degree burns. One of those exploded while the teenager was actually smoking it, leaving his face disfigured for life. Another man in Idaho suffered in the same fashion, but even worse: the force of the explosion was so powerful that it knocked out seven of his teeth. Now, there's a lot of good things that smokers will say about the use of nicotine, but we don't think it's worth this much.
Four Months On, He's Looking For Compensation
After surgery and recovery, the Otis Gooding case still hasn't come to an end. He's determined to find out the exact cause of the explosion, both so he can educate others and so he can sue the makers of his particular e-cigarette. Vapers like the one that Gooding purchased, from a shop in Canal Street, rarely come with warnings that fully explain the potential risk. And Otis wants this to change.
His suit, filed through lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, is against the manufacturers of his Wismec Reuleaux RC200, Dongguan Wismec Electronics Co. He wants them to pay for his medical treatment, which saw him stay for a fortnight in hospital. Even now, four months on, his pain still flares up, and he even has to use a wheelchair at times. All he wants is a little closure from a company that almost ruined his life.
Watch It For Yourself
If you haven't already, this is one video that you really need to see for yourself. And if you have, watch it again. It's not just a funny dance with funny lights around a store - this is deadly serious. If nothing else, it's a public service announcement: maybe you should lay off the vapes and give up nicotine entirely. Otherwise, this could be you.
Not only that, it's a very real example of the dangers of lithium-ion batteries, which are used in so many of our consumer electronics these days. Almost anything that needs a decent amount of power has one of these batteries inside it, and in the right - or wrong - conditions, some of these favorite devices are just ticking time bombs, waiting to go off. Laugh all you like at Otis Gooding, but don't say you weren't warned.