THEY’RE the world’s most popular phone – but the iPhone could also be the world’s deadliest device, with the death toll from accidental electrocution rising.
This week, a toddler in India was horrifically electrocuted after she put the lead of a phone charger in her mouth while it was still plugged into the wall and switched on.
She was rushed to hospital by her distraught mum Razia but pronounced dead on arrival.
Sadly, this is far from a one off incident and over the last few years the smartphone has left a trail of death and destruction with both adults and children injured or killed by this deadly device.
Apple sold a massive 216.76 million of them in 2017 but here we reveal the ways the iPhone has turned deadly:Messaging while lying in the bath
Electrical appliances and water never go well but for Richard Bull, 32, from Ealing, London taking his iPhone into the bath, while attached to his charger, cost him his life.
Richard was electrocuted and died after he plugged his charger into an extension cord from his hallway and suffered severe burns on his chest, arm and hand when he rested the charger on his chest and it touched the water.
At the time, product safety manager at the Electrical Safety Council, Steve Curtler said such devices typically had a low voltage of 5V to 20V so “you probably wouldn’t feel it” if they came into contact with water, he added.
However, connecting a mobile to a charger plugged into the mains electricity supply increased the risk of harm.
As the coroner Dr Sean Cummings said at the inquest into Richard’s death: “These seem like innocuous devices, but they can be as dangerous as a hairdryer in a bathroom. They should attach warnings.”
Just a few months later 15 year-old Irina Rybnikova from Bratsk in Russia was killed in a similar way.
The teenager was messaging friends in the bath when she dropped her iPhone in the water because her fingers were wet.
Tragically, the phone was attached to a charging cable and Irina was electrocuted, dying from heart failure, her body found by her devastated parents.Talking while your phone is on charge
How many of us have answered a call on our iPhone while it’s charging?
Ma Ailun, 23, a Chinese air stewardess, did just that on her iPhone 5 in 2013 and was killed by an electric shock, just weeks before her wedding, with her neck showing obvious signs of electrical injury.
Apple carried out an investigation and it transpired that a third-party charger was in fact to blame as cheap copy chargers – which were flooding the Chinese market – didn’t have to meet safety standards and could get too hot, which may have contributed to the electrocution.
Indeed, experts said if the charger or the circuit has a problem, such as a broken wire, it could lead to a fatal shock of 220 volts.
Apple subsequently announced that anyone worried their USB charger may be a counterfeit could take it into an Apple store between August and October that year and have it replaced by one made by the companyRolling onto your charger while asleep
Sleeping with your phone on charge is another big no-no.
A Vietnamese teenager tragically died in 2017 after being electrocuted in her sleep when she rolled onto her iPhone charging cable.
Le Thi Xoan was found unconscious by her parents and rushed to hospital where she was later pronounced dead, with electrocution being the official cause.
It’s thought she plugged her phone in and rested it on her bed – as she did every night.
Police in Hanoi, Vietnam, found a burnt white cable on her bed and said a tear in the rubber casing may have caused the incident.
There were also visible tears in the cable, which had been patched up, which could be where the live wires touched her.
Wiley Day also discovered the dangers of taking your iPhone to bed with you.
The 32 year-old from Alabama in the States had his phone on charge by his bed while he slept, and when he rolled over the next morning, a dog-tag necklace he was wearing caught on the exposed prongs of the charger head, which had come loose from the extension cord.
The metal chain suddenly became a conductor for the electricity — and burned his flesh.
He managed to tear the necklace off but there were strips of skin missing where the metal chain had scorched his neck.
He was treated for second and third degree burns and a local physician reckoned he’d been jolted by 110 volts of electricity and was lucky to be alive – 100 volts could kill a person.
In America, charger extension cords are at the root of over 4,000 fires and dozens of deaths every year, according to the American Burn Association.
- Listening to music while you sleep
It can be a lovely, soothing way to drift off but listening to music on your headphones to get to sleep can be fatal.
In December 2018, 16-year-old Mohd Aidi Azzhar Zahrin was discovered by his mother at their home in the town of Rembau, Malaysia, lying motionless on the floor and cold to the touch with blood pouring from his ear.
He was listening to headphones while charging his phone and an autopsy later confirmed that the cause of death was electrocution.
His brother had felt a small electric shock when touching the charging cable, indicating it may have been faulty.
Sadly, this wasn’t a one-off freak accident.
In February that year, 17-year-old student Luiza Pinheiro was similarly found dead on the floor of her home in Riacho Frio, Brazil after a “huge electric charge” surged through her phone and the headphones melted in her ears
Later on in May, a 46-year-old woman in the Indian village of Kanathur was electrocuted after she fell asleep listening to music, and a month later, a 22-year-old man in the Indian village of Pandyo was listening to music from a plugged-in mobile phone while the electricity in his house was cut off.
When the power came on, he received an electric shock through his headphones and was also killed.
This isn’t just a problem confined to developing countries, either.
In 2014, a 28-year-old Australian woman was found dead at her home in North Gosford, New South Wales after she’d been electrocuted by a faulty USB cable she was using to charge her phone while listening to music with headphones.
“These devices pose a serious risk of electrocution or fire,” Australian Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said at the time and cautioned against using any devices while they were plugged in and charging.
- Charging your phone under your pillow
Phone charger fires are becoming increasingly common across the UK.
Dwayne Blanchard, a father-of-three from Sunderland, smelt burning coming from his 12 year-old son Brandon’s bedroom one morning in 2016.
He ran in to find his pillow on fire where Brandon’s phone and Bluetooth speaker had been charging. Dwayne managed to put it out but it was a lucky escape for the entire family.
Fire safety charity Electrical Safety First warned against charging phones on beds, saying the dangerous practice could set sheets ablaze as there was nowhere for the heat generated to dissipate.
The charity’s 2016 research showed that 53 per cent of youngsters admitted leaving their phone, laptop or tablet charging on their bed and 38 per cent more kept them under pillows overnight.
Cheap, unbranded chargers were seen as the main culprits as they were more likely to contain faulty parts that could overheat or catch fire.