We’ve reached a point where most people use their cell phones every day, and they like to keep them within arm’s reach.
This attitude toward phones means that it’s easy to stay in the loop and keep in touch with friends, but we might be putting ourselves in the line of hidden dangers every single day.
One family in Wales recently learned that the hard way after their 15-year-old daughter’s phone caught fire on her bed — and nearly took the whole house with it.
In recent months, we’ve seen an uptick in smartphone-related injuries, as in the case of the little girl who got a chemical burn from her glittery phone case. But lately, there’s been a serious jump in smartphone fires.
This latest case in Wales is particularly disturbing because it demonstrates just how easy it is to start a fire just by falling into one common habit: charging your phone overnight.
The phone and the charger involved in the fire were both authentic Apple products. Fortunately, the company has policies in place to help avoid this sort of accident happening.
Scroll through below to learn more about what causes a phone to go up in flames and how you can prevent it.
The Durant family from Northern Wales learned a scary lesson the hard way in late November 2016, when 15-year-old Caitlin Durant went to bed and left her phone charging overnight.
It’s a simple habit that a lot of people follow, since your phone battery is usually drained at the end of the day, and nighttime is a convenient time to charge it.
But for the Durants, this everyday routine nearly turned tragic when Caitlin’s iPhone went up in flames.
The North Wales Fire & Rescue Department has released a few photos taken by Gemma Durant, Caitlin’s mother, to showcase exactly how quickly it can all change.
This is Caitlin’s pretty bedroom before the fire: It’s a teen girl’s dream with it’s sophisticated color palette and airy canopy bed.
Now it’s all in ashes, because Caitlin made one little-known mistake when she plugged in her phone.
She left her phone on top of the fabric of her quilt while it charged.
The soft material may have blocked the vents on the phone that keep the electronics from overheating, causing it to spark and eventually catch fire.
Thankfully, Caitlin was able to escape the room safely, but the bedroom is completely destroyed, and the rest of the home has moderate to severe smoke damage throughout it.
The Durants are lucky to have escaped with their lives: Their home will be uninhabitable for at least six months, and they may have lost almost all of their possessions.
The iPhone’s user guide comes with a clear warning about not blocking the device’s vents.
“iPhone and its power adapter comply with applicable surface temperature standards and limits. However, even within these limits, sustained contact with warm surfaces for long periods of time may cause discomfort or injury.
Use common sense to avoid situations where your skin is in contact with a device or its power adapter when it’s operating or plugged into a power source for long periods of time.
For example, don’t sleep or place a device or power adapter under a blanket, pillow, or your body when it’s plugged into a power source.
It’s important to keep iPhone and its power adapter in a well-ventilated area when using or charging them. Take special care if you have a physical condition that affects your ability to detect heat against the body.”
It’s very important to be aware of the risks and dangers of charging your phone for too long, and of charging on a soft surface.
Instead of plugging your phone in and then going to sleep, it’s a good idea to charge your phone for an hour or two before bed (while monitoring it, of course!) and then turning it off at nighttime so the battery doesn’t run down. This way, your phone will get the juice it needs without putting you at risk.
Also, if your phone charger has begun to fray or wear out, be sure to replace it, as they can cause electric shocks and/or fires.
And if you’re charging your phone with a third-party charger — that is, an “unauthorized” charger not created or sold by your phone’s company — be sure they’re compliant with safety standards.
The North Wales Fire & Rescue Service has a similar message to share, with manager Stuart Millington noting, “Turn chargers off and unplug them before you go to bed. Never leave items on charge or unattended for long periods.”
They also recommend always having a working smoke detector in the home, making sure to only use authentic products, and familiarizing yourself with the safety instructions for your phone.
They’ve also created a powerful video about how a cell phone fire can start.
To learn more, check out the footage below, and don’t forget to SHARE this important message with anyone who uses a smartphone!