Tips to avoid electrocution if you use your phone while it is being charged

A commuter charging mobile phone with a USB charging port on a bus. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - News of a Texas teen being electrocuted by her cellphone while taking a bath served as a stern warning to those addicted to their mobile phones.

Madison Coe, 14, was soaking in the bathtub last Saturday (July 8) when the incident happened. She was found unresponsive in the water with her Samsung Edge Plus phone plugged into an electrical outlet in the wall. The girl had a burn mark on her hand, presumably from holding the phone. Madison was pronounced dead in hospital.

Police said that a cellphone, a charging cord and an extension cord were found at the scene, but could not confirm whether the phone had actually fallen into the bathtub or other details.

Dr Tseng King Jet, programme director of Electrical Power Engineering at Singapore Institute of Technology, offers the following advice to mobile phone users.

1. If you really must charge your mobile phone while using it, use a portable charger or powerbank. These portable devices have same voltage ratings of 5 volts - not enough power to electrocute users. But a live socket delivers 230 volts of electrical charge, which can be leaked from a loose cable.

2. When charging your phone from the mains, use the original charger supplied by the phone manufacturer. Inferior quality products from third-parties can cause lithium-based batteries to overheat and catch fire. And lithium-based batteries are notorious for overheating.

3. Never charge your mobile phone or powerbank from the mains in wet places such as bathrooms and swimming pools. Water is a good conductor of electricity. The 230 volts of electrical charge from the mains can travel along the water trail to the user.

4. If you think your phone or charger is having potential electrical problems, have them checked by a qualified personnel.

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