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Woman Suffered Burns After Her Headphones Exploded Mid-Flight

We already know that e-cigarettes can cause third-degree burns, smartphones can light vehicles ablaze, and washing machines can blow up mid-rinse cycle—but now the list of exploding household items apparently extends to headphones as well, as one woman learned during her recent flight to Australia.

According to the Washington Post, the unidentified woman was taking a quick nap on her flight from Beijing to Melbourne last month when, two hours in, she woke up to a loud explosion. She immediately felt a burning sensation on her face and quickly realized that the noise-canceling headphones she was wearing had exploded. 

"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 woman told the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). "As I went to stamp my foot on them, the flight attendants were already there with a bucket of water to pour on them. They put them into the bucket at the rear of the plane."

Photo via the ATSB

The woman ended up being OK, but the explosion left her with burns and soot all over her face and neck. No one else onboard the flight was hurt either, although passengers had to suffer through the stench of burned hair and torched plastic for the remainder of the trip. 

"People were coughing and choking the entire way home," the woman said.

The ATSB said the lithium batteries inside the headphones likely caused them to combust, although officials didn't disclose what kind of batteries they were. Last October, a man's Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone exploded onboard a Southwest flight, filling the cabin with smoke—though, luckily, the blast happened before takeoff. The Federal Aviation Administration has strongly advised passengers to keep those phones off in-flight, due to reports that their lithium batteries had been causing fires. Perhaps the agency will have to extend that warning to certain headphone batteries as well. 

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