E-cigarettes: Fire hazards and how they affect home insurance

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Smoking e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’ as it’s become known, is possibly less damaging to your health than the real thing, but it could be almost as dangerous in terms of it being a fire hazard, latest findings show.e-cigarette

Recent figures published by the BBC reveal that e-cigarettes are believed to be the cause of just over 100 fires in less than two years. And it’s led to fire chiefs saying safety messages should be placed on electronic cigarette kits to warn people of the hazards.

As an estimated 2.1million people use e-cigarettes, the potential for tragedy on a wide-scale is significant.

Growing problem for homeowners

Experts are mainly concerned about the chargers used to power the devices, which have been shown to heat up to dangerous temperatures if used with the wrong ‘vaping’ kit.

Additionally, problems can occur when computers and DVD players are used as a charging source, statistics from 43 of the UK’s 51 fire services show.

Tragic incidents caused by ‘vaping’

The number of fire incidents related to e-cigarettes has grown rapidly, rising from only 8 in 2012 to 62 during 2014 up to November.

Two recent incidents, when two people died in 2013 and 2014, highlight just how deadly a habit vaping can be.

In one, a charging battery pack appeared to be faulty, causing a fire in a care home, and in the other an e-cigarette exploded, igniting health-related oxygen equipment.

And it’s thought the true number of fires caused us understated as cases go unreported, or the source of the fire undiscovered.

Get the right vaping equipment

The chairman of the Local Government Authority’s (LGA’s) Fire Services Management Committee told the BBC that “We are warning users that it is simply not worth risking their lives to save a few pounds by buying dodgy, dangerous or incompatible chargers.”

The LGA is also “urging e-cigarette manufacturers to introduce clear, prominent and graphic new warnings spelling out to users the dangers of using incompatible chargers with e-cigarette batteries.”

Vaping and your home

The insurance industry views those that use e-cigarettes the same as it does more traditional smokers; just because you smoke ‘fake’ cigarettes doesn’t mean you’re not a ‘smoker’.

So remember that you must tick the ‘smoker’ box when you apply for your home insurance cover or you risk invalidating it.

Why it’s important to come clean over your vaping to insurers

When it comes to home cover, smokers are treated as a greater insurance risk than non-smokers and usually have to pay more for their cover.

 

Safety tips for users

The fire service has a number of safety tips for e-cigarette users

  1. Only use the charger supplied with your e-cigarette kit – Other chargers may cause problems with incompatible battery types.
  2. Do not ‘mix and match’ components between kits.
  3. Do not over tighten the batter on to the charger – Screw the battery in gently after plugging in the charger first.
  4. Do not leave the kit unattended while charging.
  5. Clean the battery’s ‘centre pin’ and charger contact at least once a week.
  6. Once fully charged, removed the battery from the charger.

Policy Expert

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The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.