I started researching disposable lighter accidents and was mortified at what I discovered.
Since 1979, Bic disposable lighters have caused over 10 deaths and over a hundred injuries due to lighter malfunctions.
Despite a growing casualty list, scores of lawsuits and millions of dollars paid in settlements, Bic continues to make over 250 million lighters a year. Why? Because they have boatloads of money to pay off the government regulatory department: the CSP (Consumer Product Safety commission).
Here are just a few of the hundreds diasters caused by cheap disposable lighters:
- In 1979, 11-year-old Sonny Reed of Washington County, Va., flicked a Bic lighter he found in his house. It exploded. Pieces of the lighter's black plastic casing were imbedded in his forehead, said Robert T. Copeland, his attorney
- In Tampa, the family of Jack A. Morris, 76, has sued Bic in state Circuit Court, alleging that Morris died on Oct. 30, 1984, after a Bic lighter erupted in a ball of fire and burned him over 40 percent of his body
- 66-year-old Ethel Smith was killed when a Bic lighter she was using exploded, covering her with flames. Even her husband was badly burned while trying to save his wife.
In the United States, there have been at least 300 complaints or lawsuits filed about Bic lighters, according to records from courts, the safety.
"It's a little bomb," said Patrick M. Kennedy, who holds a doctorate in fire engineering and works for a family-owned firm in Chicago that investigates fires and explosions. "The lighter may work properly for 100, 150 lights . . . but all of a sudden it fails."
When Bic itself tested lighters right off the assembly line in 1983, 1.2 percent of the lighters tested failed to shut off properly, according to a document from a recent lawsuit. If that failure rate held at Bic's current production level, that would mean three million lighters a year.
I felt horrible others had to go through the same paid I did. I quickly realized it was...