Smartphone charging at night dangerous if you’re too close

A sleeping man survived a freak smartphone charger electrical injury. Learn from him why safety means being better off counting sheep than your blessings

 An Alabama man incurred second- and third-degree burns on his neck and hands when his steel necklace made contact with his smartphone charger while he slept.

When our smartphones are out of juice, it seems some of us will do nearly anything to get them charged — including risk being electrocuted.

Last week I highlighted the case of a British man who was electrocuted when he brought his iPhone into the tub with him. The phone, which was plugged in via an extension cord, touched the tub water.

Now comes news that an Alabama man suffered severe electrical burns while his smartphone was charging at night.

Wiley Day was wearing his steel dog tag necklace to bed. During the night, the necklace chain slipped and made contact with the narrow area where the phone charger was plugged into the extension cord. Approximately 110 volts shot through the chain.

According to doctors, that’s more than enough voltage to kill someone.

The surge sprung Day from his bed. Though he managed to break the chain from his neck, he incurred second- and third-degree burns on his neck and hands.

The lesson Day said he learned? “Charge your phone away from you. Charge it the next day. It’s not worth your life.”

Know when, how to break the connection to your smartphone

Day is right. It’s not worth risking your life for the satisfaction of waking up to a full battery icon.

However, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your smartphone plugged in and charging overnight. There’s a reason smartphones get the “smart” adjective: they know when their battery is at full charge and will stop charging at that point.

It’s when we have an actual physical connection to a smartphone while it’s charging that things get dangerous, even deadly.

Take, for example, a Texas woman who was electrocuted while wearing earbuds connected to her charging iPhone. Somehow the charger — which authorities said wasn’t an official Apple device — malfunctioned and sent a surge through the earbuds. A man in India and a woman in China suffered similar smartphone tragedies.

Fire and safety experts say cheap, off-brand smartphone chargers are not reliable. Their wiring and components are substandard and may fail to charge phones properly. They may even damage the phone’s battery.

Speaking of fire, never place your charging smartphone under your pillow while you sleep. As the San Francisco Chronicle notes, smartphones can get hot during charging, and sandwiching one between the pillow and mattress could hotbox a smartphone into a potential fire.

Here’s proof:

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