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The Scary Reason This Woman's Headphones Exploded During Her Flight

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The Scary Reason This Woman's Headphones Exploded During Her Flight

Imagine you’re relaxing on a flight to your destination of choice ... and all of a sudden your face is burning and on fire! That’s exactly what happened to one woman on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne on earlier this year. 

Though specific information, such as her name and flight details, was not released, we do know what caused the incident: Lithium batteries.

The unidentified woman was sleeping while wearing battery-operated headphones when a loud explosion woke her up — and scared the crap out of the other passengers.

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Don't worry, you don't need sound for this video:


The woman told the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB):

"As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face ... I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck. 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. ... People were coughing and choking the entire way home."

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Turns out, the lithium batteries used to power to headphones exploded.

You probably know that Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones were banned from airplanes for this exact reason.

What you may not know ... lithium batteries are used in pretty much all electronic devices.

These types of batteries have a long shelf life, so when everyone complains that their iPhone dies after a few hours, the company looks to fix that with long-lasting batteries, i.e. lithium.

The problems can arise when the battery overheats, "which can be caused by an anode and cathode short-circuiting due to a breach in their separation."

WTF does that mean?!

Imagine you are an anode, where power flows in when your device is being charged. Now, imagine your skanky ex-boyfriend who cheated on you is the cathode draining out your power as you lose your battery life. You block that cathode on Facebook and Instagram and YET ... there's still some way he's getting through to you.

That's the breach in separation — and that's what can cause sparks within the device.

(Not your relationship. Please don't rekindle a romance with a cheater!)

"Passengers may carry all consumer-sized lithium ion batteries (up to 100-watt hours per battery). This size covers AA, AAA, cell phone, PDA, camera, camcorder, handheld game, tablet, portable drill, and standard laptop computer batteries ... External chargers are also considered to be a battery. With airline approval, devices can contain larger lithium ion batteries (101-160 watt-hours per battery), but spares of this size are limited to two batteries in carry-on baggage only. This size covers the largest aftermarket extended-life laptop batteries and most lithium ion batteries for professional-grade audio/visual equipment.

Lithium metal batteries ... are often used with cameras and other small personal electronics. Consumer-sized batteries (up to 2 grams of lithium per battery) may be carried. This includes all the typical non-rechargeable lithium batteries used in cameras (AA, AAA, 123, CR123A, CR1, CR2, CRV3, CR22, 2CR5, etc.) as well as the flat round lithium button cells."

So are lithium batteries safe on airplanes?

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My advice? Bring a book to read for your next flight. It's safer and you'll look super-smart and sexy!

Liza Walter is a love and entertainment writer. 

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on March 27, 2017 and was updated with the latest information.