A 16-year-old Malaysian boy is dead, and his cellphone, headphones, and charger appear to be the reason why. Mohd Aidi Azzhar Zahrin was found lifeless by his mother last week, the victim of electrocution, the New Straits Times reports. “She tried to wake him up and as she touched him, the boy’s body felt cold,” district police chief Deputy Superintendent Anuar Bakri Abdul Salam told the Malaysian newspaper “There was bleeding in the boy’s left ear.”
It’s not the first time someone has died from electrocution due to some faulty gear. Though it’s rare, there are some notably similar incidents from the recent past, including:
- In 2016, another Malaysian, this time a 30-year-old woman, was electrocuted while charging her phone.
- In 2017, a London man died after his charging iPhone slipped into the bathtub with him.
- A similar fate befell a Russian woman in 2015.
- In Alabama, a 32-year-old man received second- and third-degree burns to his neck and hands after his metal dogtag came in contact with his phone’s charger’s contacts.
Why do these events keep happening, even though they’re hardly commonplace? In some instances, it’s poor judgement. After all, any electrical device and water, don’t mix. We’re taught that almost as early as “look both ways before crossing the street,” but for some reason, our cellphones just don’t look as intimidating as a hair dryer or toaster.
At other times, it’s faulty equipment. Keep in mind, even though the chargers and cables that came in the box with your new smartphone, are probably tested and approved by major safety certification labs, this is not always the case. More worryingly is the enormous number of aftermarket products sold online that either receive no testing, or have had their certifications faked. We strongly recommend that you only by products that have been certified safe by UL, CSA, Intertek, TUV, or one of the other third-party safety labs. The “CE” mark may look like a lab certification, but it is not.
Electrical surges can happen almost anywhere at any time. A surge related to a possible lightning strike may have killed a 17-year-old Brazilian girl, whose injuries were consistent with those of Zahrin. The only way to completely avoid this, is to never use a phone that is connected to a wall charger. You can’t count on the charger or the phone to insulate you from a massive power spike, and even modern electrical panels have been known to fail during these events.
So check your gear, keep it away from the bathtub, and avoid using it while charging. Whether it’s music or Messenger, we’re pretty sure it can wait.
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