Three-year-old Ava Lyons suffered severe burns to her hands and face when a portable DVD player exploded in her lap on July 21 while travelling in the backseat of the family car. According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, the incident occurred while Ava was travelling with her father near Rochester in Victoria. Having noticed a burning smell in the car, Ava’s father pulled over to investigate under the bonnet. Whilst outside the car he saw a flash come from the backseat and when he opened the door, found his daughter screaming with her padded seatbelt covers, soft toy and some of her clothes alight. Mr Lyons managed to use Ava’s apple juice to put the out the flames after pulling her from the car. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Ava’s injuries included “partial thickness burns to her right hand, and superficial burns to her cheeks, lips, nose, eye lids and eyebrows.” She was flown from Rochester to the Royal Children’s Hospital for treatment immediately after the incident. She has since required assessment on a weekly basis by a burns specialist and cosmetic surgeon and has also suffered nightmares as a result of the trauma. Ava’s mother told the Sydney Morning Herald that “during the day, she's great but during the night she will have nightmares, dreaming she is on fire and thrash around...she will come to me and ask, 'Mummy, will the fire get me again?'"
Mr Lyons reported that the explosion appeared to have originated in the internal battery compartment of the Dick Smith branded portable DVD player. As a consequence of this incident, a recall notice was issued on these devices stating "fears its internal battery could overheat, ignite and burn users.”
As Mrs Lyons suggested to the Sydney Morning Herald, the use of portable devices to keep children occupied during car trips is very common. This incident however draws attention to potential safety risks associated with the use of such equipment. It may be useful for manufacturers to place a burn risk warning notice on all portable devices with an internal battery and advise that they should not be used over extended periods of time. It is also important that parents inform themselves of the hazards associated with technology of this nature and where possible, ensure that they supervise their children while using it.