Dangerous DIY vape recharge warning

Vape users following do-it-yourself recharging videos risk fires or electrocution for the sake of a few extra puffs, prompting safety warnings about the practice.

Feb 17, 2023, updated Feb 17, 2023
Warnings are being issued over social media videos showing how to DIY vape recharging. Photo: TikTok

Warnings are being issued over social media videos showing how to DIY vape recharging. Photo: TikTok

InDaily has received reports of young people following YouTube and TikTok videos showing them how to cut recharging cords connected to computers or mains electricity so the exposed wires can be used to kickstart disposable vape batteries.

Comments on some videos say the practice can help users extract the last bit of liquid in a disposable vape, also known as an e-cigarette, while others warn devices have exploded in the process and caused a fire.

One commented: “I accidentally made two of the wires touch, when I pushed it all back (battery and wires) into the tube it started smoking and smelling and it exploded.”

Warnings over the practice are being issued by National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) for South Australia and Northern Territory executive director Larry Moore after he viewed some of the videos.

He said although charging cords are low voltage, the practice of exposing wires could lead to the charging device plug “melting” and increase risks of electrocution.

Moore said exposing electricity wires is always risky and the low quality of some charging cords could create further dangers.

“I would strongly warn anyone doing this that it is a dangerous practice,” Moore said, adding it could lead to the vape melting or a computer being damaged if the charging cord is connected during the process.

“It could even cause a fire.”

Moore said NECA electricity contractors are increasingly concerned about online DIY videos leading to a wide-range of dangerous electrical work practices happening in homes.

While InDaily has anonymous evidence of the DIY vape practice in South Australia, both Health Minister Chris Picton and Education Minister Blair Boyer have received no reports of incidents.

SA Health said it had no figures showing presentations to emergency of people being hurt by vape recharging but a spokesperson said this information would be difficult to extract from records.

While he was unaware of the DIY recharging practice, Health Minister Chris Picton said it was clear vaping is becoming increasingly prevalent in Australia and many schools are now dealing with the concerning practice daily.

“I am extremely concerned about the prevalence of vaping especially among young people,” Picton said.

“Vapes typically contain nicotine, artificial flavourings, and various chemicals, shown to be toxic.

“Research has unveiled a cocktail of chemicals which raise serious concerns about the safety of these products and their risks to the respiratory health of young people.”

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There are also no reports to the Education Department about school students engaging in DIY methods to recharge disposable vape devices, but Boyer said it was critical to be proactive in addressing the overall health risk of vaping.

It is illegal to promote, market or sell e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18.

Four schools in SA have now installed detectors to crack down on vaping, with air quality monitors sending a text message to a teacher or principal if vapour is detected.

“We know vaping is increasingly an issue in schools, which reflects a broader societal problem,” Boyer said, adding that he launched a Vaping Action Plan in November last year to further tackle the problem.

“This is an issue which has been raised by schools, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Cancer Council and other health groups.

“We are working with the Commonwealth Government to explore stronger steps we can take to protect our kids.”

Boyer said shortly after taking on the Education Minister role he received survey results from young people that showed two out of three respondents (out of 1000) had tried vaping.

The Vaping Action Plan is updating the state’s school health and physical education curriculum to teach students about the impacts of e-cigarettes.

It includes $2.25m funding over three years to Life Education SA and Encounter Youth to deliver preventative education programs and another $40,000 for Encounter Youth to deliver programs for free to 60 disadvantaged schools across the state.

A linked public health campaign will provide fact sheets, posters and updated information on the Education Department website.

School staff are also receiving new training about vaping in a partnership with Drug and Alcohol Services Australia, Quitline, the Cancer Council and the Commissioner for Children and Young People.

And the plan involves providing wellbeing support and processes to work with families of students found vaping to help break an addiction.

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