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Airport battery explosion; the latest in an alarming trend

KUTV Battery dangers 111317.JPG
Airport battery explosion; the latest in an alarming trend 

(KUTV) This past weekend, TSA agent Ricardo Perez ran a smoking bag from an Orlando airport terminal. Inside, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery had exploded.

Batteries suddenly becoming bombs is a danger on which Get Gephardt has reported before.

A charging e-cigarette exploded, igniting Rick Epp's Salt Lake CIty living room.

Krisy Hernandez of Taylorsville said it looked like a bomb had exploded when an e-cigarette exploded in her car.

And 21-year-old Evan Spahlinger suffered third-degree burns and spent a week in the intensive care unit when his e-cigarette blew up in his face.

"It was like a fire extinguisher being shot in my face," he said. "I was sort of gasping for air. Everything I was spitting out was black, like I was spitting up blood, but it was just black."

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there have been 49 different recalls of lithium-ion batteries since 2012. That totals more than 4.2 million products pulled off store shelves.

Last year, Hewlett-Packard expanded its notebook battery recall to more than 100,000. Samsung recalled nearly 2 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones over a fire risk. And half a million hover boards were recalled due to overheating and exploding.

There have been at least eight deaths reported worldwide due to battery fires or explosions, including a Pennsylvania toddler who died in a house fire caused by an exploding hover board.

Fire Inspector Bob Lemons says anytime you recharge a device, make sure it's on an open surface away from other combustibles. Also, make sure the heat generated from the source has a chance to dissipate from the area and once it's fully charged never leave your device plugged in for an extended period of time.

Federal regulators are also trying to be more proactive. The CPSC is providing safety training for designers and manufacturers of electronics that use lithium-ion batteries. They're also keeping a closer eye on electronics being imported to the United States.

"A lot of times, some of these products are coming in from places that don't have the quality control that we're used to," Lemons said.