Woman injured after her battery-operated headphones exploded mid-flight

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is currently warning passengers about the risks of using battery-operated equipment in-flight, after a woman headed to the country was injured when her headphones exploded while using them.

The woman suffered burns in her face and neck over the exploded headphones | via ATSB

The woman, who was not named, was on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne. About two hours into the flight while she was catching up on sleep, she was awoken by the sound of an 'explosion'. She later found the headphones sparking and catching fire. “As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” she said. “I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck.

She continued to feel burning, prompting her to throw the headphones to the floor, as they were beginning to melt. The explosion left her with burns on her face and neck, as well as blisters on her hands.

As soon as she was about to stomp on the headphones to put out the fire, flight attendants arrived pouring a bucket of water onto the headphones. By this time, the battery and cover had melted and stuck to the floor of the aircraft.

Passengers endured the smell of melted plastic, burnt electronics, and burnt hair for the remainder of the flight. “People were coughing and choking the entire way home,” the passenger said.

The ATSB determined that the lithium-ion batteries inside the headphones were the cause of the fire. In line with the issue, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has published an advisory on how to travel safely with batteries and portable power packs. "Short-circuiting batteries have been responsible for numerous on-board fires, so it’s important that all spare batteries have their terminals protected properly," the authority wrote.

Concerns over safety issues affecting the Li-ion battery in Samsung's Galaxy Note7 smartphone resulted in Australian airlines - along with those in various other nations - banning the device from being brought onto aircraft last year. An incident in which a handset's battery caught fire on a Southwest Airlines jet while on the ground was a stark reminder of the potential dangers of faulty Li-ion batteries on airliners.

Source: Australian Transport Safety Bureau via BBC

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