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E-cigarettes

The number of people using electronic cigarettes has increased dramatically in recent years – but this rise has also seen an increase in safety concerns.

Worries about possible health implications aside, there have been a number of reported incidents involving e-cigarette chargers, including two in Kent (Dec 2014 and Jan 2015) in Kent where e-cigarettes have exploded after being charged incorrectly.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is urging people who use e-cigarettes to make sure they follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when it comes to charging them.

According to recent national figures into e-cigarettes fires, there has been an increase over the last two years; in 2012 there were just eight emergency service call-outs to e-cigarette fires but the figure rose to 43 in 2013, and by November 2014 there had been 62, adding up to 113 in total. It is feared that these figures could be a lot worse due to many incidents not being recorded.

KFRS Community Safety Manager, Charlie Smith has this advice: "If you are trying to quit smoking and you're using an e-cigarette to help you, please make sure you know how to charge it safely. You might save a few pounds if you buy cheap or incompatible chargers but is it really worth putting your family or home at risk? If your e-cigarette doesn't come with a charger, please don't assume that your USB cables can be transferred between devices. Chargers for mobile phones are often more powerful, so can overheat.

Charlie also added: “We would always recommend your property has smoke alarms installed and that they are regularly maintained and checked.”

Please follow these safety tips when charging e-cigarettes:

  • Check your smoke alarm every week
  • Only use the charger supplied with your e-cigarette
  • If no charger is supplied check with the manufacturer for a list of approved chargers
  • Read the instructions on how to clean the battery centre pin and charger contact
  • Stop charging once it has been fully charged
  • Don’t leave it charging overnight, unattended or charging on flammable surfaces such as a bed or sofa
  • Don’t over-tighten the battery – especially when charging

For advice and to report issues contact the national Citizens Advice consumer serviceon 03454 04 05 06 or visit the Kent Trading Standards web page for more information.

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