During the last couple of years, the news has been full of reports of cell phones, e-cigarettes, and hoverboards exploding and causing fires. Lithium batteries have even been linked to at least one airplane crash. Is it possible that battery-operated headphones could be added to the list?
Samsung sold millions of the new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy Note 7 phones and ended up issuing more than one worldwide recall after several dozen of the devices overheated, exploded and caught on fire. Several people were burned when the Samsung devices caught on fire while in their pockets. Eventually, the problem was tracked to the lithium-ion batteries.
Millions of people around the world have switched from smoking real cigarettes to smoking e-cigarettes, thinking that it would be better for their health. They not only placed a false sense of health safety in the e-cigarettes, but they failed to know that their new habit could place them in harm’s way. A growing number of e-cigarette’s have been exploding and catching fire, often in people’s pockets, causing burns to their thighs and sensitive areas. Eventually, the problem was tracked to the lithium-ion batteries.
Since last year, hoverboards became very popular with millions being sold. Before Christmas, hoverboards began exploding and catching fire. Just last Saturday, a hoverboard is being blamed for causing a housefire in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that resulted in the death of a three-year-old girl and a firefighter. Two other young girls were also hospitalized as a result of the same fire. What’s been causing the hoverboards to explode and catch on fire? The lithium-ion batteries.
Perhaps the least known tragedy linked to lithium-ion batteries was the 2010 crash of UPS Airlines Flight 6, a cargo plane for the international package delivery giant. The 747-00F was flying a route between the Cologne-Bonn airport in Germany and Dubai when the plane caught fire and crashed, killing the entire flight crew. The fire was eventually traced to the lithium batteries.
Additionally, two Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes have experienced problems with lithium batteries overheating and causing fires, but fortunately, both of these incidents occurred while the planes were still on the ground. The FAA responded by banning lithium batteries on all passenger planes and any cargo plane that carries passengers.
However, the ban on lithium batteries on planes only refers to those used on the planes, not by those used by passengers, but they may change after what happened to a woman flying from China to Melbourne, Australia.
According to a report:
“The woman was dozing on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne when she was woken by the sound of an explosion while she listened to music.”
“She tore the headphones off to find them sparking, catching fire and beginning to melt.”
“The passenger was left with a blackened face and blisters on her hands.”
“‘I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck. I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor,’ the woman, who has not been named, told the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).”
“‘They were sparking and had small amounts of fire’.”
“Members of the flight crew rushed to help and eventually put out the fire by pouring a bucket of water on the headphones.”
“By that time, the battery and the plastic cover had melted and stuck to the floor.”
“‘For the remainder of the flight, passengers endured the smell of melted plastic, burnt electronics and burnt hair,’ the ATSB said in its report.”
“The report did not mention the brand of headphones, but said it believed that a fault with lithium-ion batteries was the likely cause.”
As far as I know, this is the first reported case of headphones exploding, but somehow, I doubt it will be the last.
Lithium batteries are widely used in many products including laptop computers, most cell phones, computer tablets, power tools, cameras, cars, scooters, and so much more and no one really knows just how dangerous they may be. Just know that if you’re enjoying your favorite tunes on a pair of rechargeable headphones, it just may blow your mind and more.