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Rochester student injured by exploding cellphone

A student at Kellogg Middle School was burned today when the battery in his cell phone exploded.

A student at Kellogg Middle School was burned today when the battery in his cell phone exploded.

In an audio message to parents, Kellogg Principal Dwight Jennings said that the battery burned a hole in the boy's pants, burned his leg and left a burn mark on the floor. The explosion left a lingering odor throughout the entire school. Jennings advised parents to monitor their children for any effects from inhaling smoke.

"Students who are reporting a lingering, burning sensation in their throat should be seen by a medical doctor, because of the burning sulfur in the battery," Jennings said Thursday in a recorded message to parents.

Children were evacuated from the classroom during the event and allowed back in after the room had been aired out.

"Never heard of that happening," said a manager of a Rochester electronic products store who asked that his name not be used because his corporate office had not given him permission to talk to the media.

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Such events, however rare, are not inconceivable or unheard of. Cell phones are powered by lithium-ion batteries that have been known to overheat, smoke or explode when damaged. Cell phones are shipped in boxes that bear the image of a fire and have special labeling for transport on airplanes.  

Early last year, Hewlett-Packard agreed to pay out $425,000 to settle claims regarding hazardous laptop incidents after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission charged the company for not issuing a recall quickly enough for knowingly selling laptops with batteries that could catch fire or overheat.

Although there have been a few hundred reported cases involving overheated, smoking or potential fires, not all result in injuries. But a extremely small number of cell phone detonations have led to minor injuries and even death. "Complex Tech," a electronics product website, even lists the "13 Deadliest Cell Phone Explosions," ranging from a cell phone exploding in a user's hand to a phone combusting in a person's pants.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers three tips for consumers to prevent cell phones from exploding.

1. Don't use chargers or batteries that aren't designed to work with a particular phone. Users should be wary of knock-offs and counterfeit accessories.

2. Keep you phone away from excessive heat. Don't leave it in a car in the middle of summer or near a heater or stove.

3. Keep the battery's positive and negative connections from crossing. This is typically caused by a piece of metal coming into contact with the battery.

Message from Kellogg principal

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