A young dad has been left scarred for life after an E-CIGARETTE battery exploded “like a firework” in his pocket.
Dan Walker, 20, was in a shop when his trousers burst into flames at around 3pm on Saturday (13/2).
He quickly tried to pull down his jogging bottoms and shoppers were forced to roll him on the ground to extinguish the fire.
Dan was rushed to the specialist burns unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where doctors found he had suffered second and third degree burns.
Shocking injury pictures taken at hospital show how his left leg was left completely blackened by the blast.
Dan, a production line worker for Jaguar Land Rover, has now been told he will need a skin graft to repair the damage and will off work for up to six weeks.
Today (Thur) Dan, from Tamworth, Staffs., said: “There was no warning, the battery was not hot or causing any problems.
“As I walked into one of the shops I heard this bang and a whistle like you hear from a firework and my leg had caught fire.
“My left leg was totally covered in fire and my right was singed.
“I could have lost my private parts or even worse. If I’d been vaping at the time it could have taken my face clean off. It’s terrifying to think about what might have been.
“The whole thing just happened so fast and my first thought was to pull down my joggers as fast as I could to escape from the flames.
“At first I thought a bomb had gone off. It was terrifying. Other people in the shop were rolling me on the floor to put out the flames.
“I have had to go the hospital every day since it happened and the doctors have told me that I may need a skin graft.
“I can barely walk at the moment but in some ways I do feel lucky because they said if I had been wearing jeans at the time, I would not have been able to get them off quick enough and I could have lost my leg.
“I dread to think what would have happened if I had been holding the battery near my face.
“I have been traumatised for life, to hear a bang and look down to see your leg on fire is not something I would wish on anyone.
“The pain I felt was something that was out of this world.”
Dan says he paid £7.50 for an LG Electronics e-cigarette battery which he was carrying as a spare.
Dan, who gave up a 15 cigarettes-a-day habit on New Year’s Day, added: “I will never vape again.
“I have not been smoking for two months, but I would feel much safer using a cigarette than using the e-cigarette.
“The whole experience has totally changed my life and I will never be the same.
“I’m just traumatised by what has happened and want to get the message out there that these things can be dangerous.
“People need to make sure they buy their batteries and equipment from reputable shops.
“You need to know what you are buying and make sure that you keep them in a safe place and away from children.
“You see these things on the news and you think ‘it is never going to happen to me’, but it has.
“It has really brought it home to me how dangerous these things can be and that these things can happen and people have got to be aware of this.”
E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are battery-powered vaporisers that simulate the feeling of smoking, but without the tobacco.
Users can buy different flavoured juices to put in the vapes which give the same nicotine kick as a cigarette, but rather than breathing out smoke, the user breathes out vapour.
Retailers in Tamworth have now advised people on the correct ways to use e-cigarettes and said they believe vaping is healthier than smoking.
Councillor Gill Heath, cabinet member for trading standards at Staffordshire County Council, added: “More and more people are using e-cigarettes, but it is important that they are buying the genuine article from legitimate retailers.
“There are a few simple checks you can do to try and spot a fake, but the best advice would be if you’re not sure, don’t buy or don’t use it.
“It’s also worth noting that even genuine e-cigarettes can sometimes fail safety tests, so it’s best to use them with caution and take care with whatever product you have bought.”
Dan Walker claims he bought the £7.50 battery for his e-cigarette from Vape Sales UK in Tamworth.
Manager Ashley Upton said it was “possible” Mr Walker purchased the battery from the shop but stressed that the batteries are also available from countless other retailers.
He said: “There is no evidence that he (Mr Walker) bought the battery from this shop. The batteries are available here but there are also three other vaping shops in Tamworth.
“We have lots of battery safety messages around the shop warning users not to carry them loose.
“All it takes is some coins or a set of keys touch the battery and it completes the circuit and can cause them to short out.
“Vaping is perfectly safe as long as you follow the safety advice.”