An unidentified woman has had a very bad flight between Beijing and Melbourne after her battery-operated wireless headphones exploded, causing burns to her hair, face, and hands. In fact, the sound of the explosion awakened her, but hell had only just begun.
The woman told Australian Aviation Safety (ATSB) technicians that “When I was about to turn around, I felt something burn on my face.” “I brought my hands to my face, and the headphones fell on my neck. I kept noticing that it burned me, so I took them off and threw them to the ground. They were sparking and had small amounts of fire.”
The flight crew came a few seconds later. By that time, the headphones were already melting on the floor of the cabin.
“I was about to stomp them to turn them off when the stewardess arrived with a bucket full of water,” the victim explains. “They put them in the bucket and took them to the end of the plane. The smell was horrible, a mixture of plastic and burnt hair. People were coughing the rest of the trip.”
The ATSB authorities have not specified which brand or model the headphones were. A spokesman for the agency told the Daily Mail that this was not important.
It is possible that the headphones are of an unknown brand and the passenger bought them in a Beijing market. But it may also be a headset of the same make and model that we carry on our plane travel and the problem may be due to a manufacturing failure that affects more units.
In the news bulletin echoing the incident, the ATSB explains the importance of storing battery-powered devices properly during the flight. For example, a smartphone that goes out of the pocket and sneaks between the seats can overheat or be damaged if we activate the mechanisms to recline our place.
As we already we already seen that the lithium-ion batteries that feed most of our devices are time bombs. The technical term for these random bursts is “thermal packaging” and is the same as we have seen recently with the Galaxy Note 7.
There are different causes for this phenomenon, from an overcharge to a perforated battery or a defective USB cable. The likelihood of this happening to us is really small, about one in ten million, says Ken Boyce, engineering director at a device security company.
Moreover, ATSB says that you have to be careful with the devices that work with batteries, especially in the airplanes. One way to do this is to make sure the device has the UL logo sticker indicating that it has passed quality controls from an independent firm. Those Bluetooth headsets you bought for five euros on eBay can be a bargain or explode in the face.
So, we firmly recommend you to buy only authentic electronic devices to stay safe.
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