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Apple told to warn against charging phone in bath after man’s electrocution

Why it matters to you

It's a sad reminder to think twice before taking electrical items close to water.

Some folks simply can’t resist taking their smartphone into the bathtub to check their social media feeds or play games, and occasional reports of fatal accidents suggest a small percentage may be going one step further and also charging their device while in the tub.

One such person, 32-year-old Richard Bull of London, died on December 11 from an electric shock he received when his iPhone charger touched the water of the bath he was in. The coroner examining the case, Dr. Sean Cummings, last week ruled the death as accidental, but said he intended to ask Apple to take steps to help prevent further such incidents.

Cummings said that while smartphones “seem like innocuous devices … they can be as dangerous as a hairdryer in a bathroom,” adding that handset makers “should attach warnings” to the devices to warn of the risks.

The postmortem into the fatal accident, which happened in December 2016, revealed burns on the right arm and right hand of 32-year-old Bull, the coroner said. His wife had called for help but he was already dead when first responders arrived at their London home. Police who investigated the scene said they found an extension cord running between the hallway and the bathroom.

More: Woman dies of electrocution as she used a smartphone that was charging

Sheila Merrill of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents told the BBC that while such incidents are rare, “people need to be aware of taking an electrical appliance into the bathroom.”

“If you have got any appliance attached to the mains electricity circuit, you have to be aware there is a danger there,” Merrill said. “Electricity and water don’t mix, but particularly with phones, people don’t … always think about it. It’s not advisable to use them while they’re plugged in, particularly in a bathroom situation.”

Bull’s mother, Carole, told The Sun, “I worry so many people, and especially teenagers who can’t be separated from their phones, don’t know how dangerous it is.”