While rare, there have been an abnormal amount of reports of deaths related to phone chargers over the years. With reports of such surfacing yet again- it makes us realize that phone charger safety isn’t something to ignore.
An accidental electrical shock fatality has resulted in authorities issuing an emergency safety warning. The victim was a teenager in the Cambodian province of Kratie and the cause is believed to be a faulty mobile phone charger.
Khorn Srey Pov, a 17-year-old Chinese translator, was in employment with the Sing Yon Kong Yik gold mining company. Ms. Pov had possibly left her mobile phone charging on her bed with the flash turned on while she went for a shower. Afterward, it is thought she climbed atop the bed and had lied down with the charging phone underneath her. This is when authorities believe the device electrocuted Ms. Pov.
Social media users have since gone into a debate as to how safe phone chargers are. One commented: “They should be having public awareness campaigns on how to handle electricity”. Others lamented about how careless they often see people around electricity and live wires, let alone while being wet.
According to experts, a charger electrocuting someone is considerably low. However, the risks become higher with the use of substandard or incompatible chargers which do not have proper insulation. Unfortunately, there have been more cases in the past involving phone chargers
Not the only death involving a phone charger
This, unfortunately, isn’t the only time a phone charger has been involved in someone’s death. Back in 2019, a 17-year-old girl from Thailand died after she plugged her phone into a frayed extension cable. The cable then came into contact with the metal frame of her bed- which led to her electrocution. Nong Ying had simply pushed the damaged lead into the main circuit system of her house. The extension lead had been extremely frayed- leading to it being fixed with duct tape. But as it turns out, the damaged device had completely turned the metal bed frame into a conductor.
Khanti Peansoongnern, the Police Captain and the investigating officer on the case, blamed the electrocution on the power strip. “I think the old power strip provided an electrical leakage which ran to the bed, either through the soil on the ground, or directly touching the metal. The girl might have then accidentally have touched the bed’s edge which is metal and she was electrocuted“.
With this tragedy in mind, one needs to pay heed to the warnings issued by the New York Fire Department. To be frank, this doesn’t just apply to New York- but the whole world. “Make sure they protect all of the electrical cords in your home from damage, for example, don’t run cords under carpets or rugs and don’t hang them from nails. If the cord is attached to an appliance you would like to keep, contact an electrician to help you. Do not touch it or try to repair it yourself.”
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More documented cases
Again in 2019, there was another tragedy involving a phone charger. A teenager was electrocuted in the city of Maipu, Argentina. According to his parents, he had just left the family table to charge his phone. When his parents didn’t see him come back, they rushed to his room to find him lying prone. The father immediately took the young man to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. This news resulted in an outpouring of condolences for the teen. One relative stated, “Fly high Angel Andrada, dear nephew, and give strength to your family to help relieve them of such great pain. My condolences to the family. I send you a hug with all my heart.”
In 2014, such a tragedy led to a mobile phone business facing prosecution. A woman had been electrocuted due to a faulty phone charger at her home in Australia. Sheryl Anne Aldeguer, the mother of two, was found dead whilst having her headphones on. According to Fair Trading NSW, a faulty charger sent a high course of current through her body. The reporter for the media publication commented, “The voltage seems to travel up through the faulty charger into her phone and she was wearing earplugs and also operating a laptop which was also plugged into a powerpoint. So the electricity traveled back down through the earphones to the laptop and into the powerpoint.”
In 2017, a man from West London- Richard Bull- died when his phone charger made contact with his bath water. According to Steve Curtler, the product safety manager for Apple, the accident only took place since the charger was connected. “Although the cable that is plugged in to your phone is 5V, somewhere along the line it’s plugged into the electricity supply and you’re reliant on that cable and a transformer to make sure you don’t get into contact with the main voltage. You’re wet, which conducts electricity a lot better, you’re in the bath with no clothes on, so skin resistance is less. You’re vulnerable in the bathroom.”
Listing all of these events may seem scary, but it’s important to remember that over all these events are rare. Its important to not sleep with your phone charging in your bed and to avoid using substandard or incompatible chargers which do not have proper insulation.
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- “Warning Issued After Teen Was Electrocuted By Phone Charger In Her Sleep” UNILAD. July 30, 2022.
- “Teen Electrocuted After Charging Her Phone With Frayed Extension Cable.” UNILAD. Emily Brown. November 4, 2019.
- “Teen electrocuted after asking his parents to leave the dinner table to charge his phone.” NY Post. Ethan Singh. March 3, 2022.
- “Faulty USB phone charger blamed for Sheryl Aldeguer’s death.” SMH. Emma Partridge and Saffron Howden. June 27, 2014.
- “Man dies charging iPhone while in the bath.” BBC. March 17, 2017.