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Woman's headphones explode on her face while mid-flight

Woman's headphones explode on her face while mid-flight
Australian Transport Safety Bureau

We've heard of phones exploding, hoverboards catching fire and heck, even electronic cigarettes blowing up. It seems like anything with a rechargeable battery nowadays can be a potential fire hazard, Scary, right?

Now add headphones to this list.

An Australian woman was reported by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to have sustained burns to her face after her battery-operated headphones exploded while mid-flight from Beijing to Melbourne.

The headphone's overheated batteries are said to be the likely source of the explosion.

The Safety Bureau said that about two hours into the flight, the injured passenger was sleeping when a loud explosion was heard in the plane's cabin. She then felt a burning sensation on her face.

“I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck,” the woman said in a statement. “I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor. They were sparking and had small amounts of fire.”

The flight attendants then doused the still-sparking headphones with a bucket of water to contain the flames. When the smoke cleared, the headphone cover and its batteries appeared to be melted and stuck to the floor.

The fire may have been contained but the noxious fumes lingered in the plane. The woman said that the passengers were "coughing and choking" for the rest of the flight.

The name of the injured passenger, the airline and the headphone brand were not released.

We are speculating that the headphone batteries were rechargeable lithium-ion types and were subjected to a phenomenon called "thermal runaway." This event may have been caused by overcharging, a damaged or punctured battery due to cabin pressure or the batteries were just poorly designed.

In "thermal runaway," if a lithium-ion battery gets hot enough, it will start a cycle of reactions that will produce even more heat, which could lead to, yes you guessed it, an explosion.

Click here to read how lithium-ion batteries might explode.

With wireless rechargeable headphones gaining popularity, this incident serves as a warning. Never buy off-brand and cheap versions of these types of battery operated headphones, Bluetooth or otherwise.

Also before buying, check if the headphones have been certified by the UL Safety Standards body, signified by the UL logo on the device.

Another good idea is to stay away from counterfeit goods. Make sure you're always buying from legitimate sellers and stay away from markets known for peddling fake items. Remember, if an online deal is too good to be true, more than likely, it is in fact, "too good to be true."

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