Keeping your phone charged and in bed is a dangerous but common practice. A study found that 62% of adults sleep with their phones in arm’s reach. Whether you want to stay notified, fall asleep with your phone next to you, or simply have it near for convenience, placing your phone away from the bed is the best move for your safety.
Phones, tablets, and other devices generate a lot of heat while in use. These devices are constantly cooling themselves to prevent overheating. When your phone or tablet is laying within blankets and under your pillow though, the hot air can build up and cause the phone to overheat and in worst-case scenarios, catch fire.
Probability of Exploding & Catching on Fire
It’s unlikely that your phone will explode or catch on fire, but it’s not impossible. When electronic devices explode or catch fire, it usually has to do with the battery. Modern devices are powered by lithium-ion batteries that carry a balance of positive and negative electrodes to allow recharging. Unpredictability and fires can occur when the inner components of these batteries break down.
Why Does this Happen?
There are multiple reasons for components in lithium-ion batteries to break down. The most common though is excessive heat. When a charging battery becomes too hot too quickly, the phone’s components can be ruined. This can result in a chain reaction called thermal runway, where the battery generates even more heat and eventually explodes or catches fire.
Phones can overheat for a multitude of reasons. A few examples include:
- Physical damage from dropping
- Leaving phones out in the sun for long periods
- Malware overworking the central processing unit (CPU)
- Charging failure
- Degrading batteries
Should your phone catch on fire, call emergency services and douse the flames with a fire extinguisher.
Warning signs may not appear before the phone explodes or catches on fire. However, the following signs may indicate your device needs to be replaced before disaster.
- Hissing or popping sounds from the device
- Burning plastic or chemical smells
- Excessive heat from the device while charging
- Swollen battery/changes in the devices shape
- Protruding screen or enlarged seam
Practicing Electronic Device Safety
By following the manufacturer’s instructions and practicing electronic device care, you can prolong the life of your phone and decrease the chances of your phone’s destruction.
Safe Charging Habits
Ultimately, charging your phone in bed is unsafe as blankets, pillows, and even your body can disrupt ventilation and lead of overheating. Instead, charge your phone on flat and open surfaces. A few other charging habits to keep in mind include the following:
- Keep an eye out for frayed or exposed charging wires
- Avoid wrapping charging wires too tightly
- Do not leave charging electronic devices unattended
- Keep charging items away from flammable objects such as bedding
- Do not touch charging electronic devices with wet hands or while in water
Phones and other electronic devices are investments that can last years. Although they are sturdy, it’s important to still take care of them. A few guidelines to follow for your phone involve:
- Avoid leaving your phone in direct sunlight and on hot radiators
- Avoid leaving your phone out in cold weather
- Be aware of phone malware that can cause your phone to overheat
- Use a phone case to protect from battery damage after dropping
Generic Phone Chargers
Purchasing low-cost and generic chargers can save money and provide convenience. Though it is still recommended to purchase chargers from the original manufacturer. Your device needs the right amount of voltage and current to charge properly which is provided by its original charger.
Not only are there potential burn and fire hazards, but using cheap charging components can cause shock, electrocution, and ultimately may cost you more in the long run. Mixing and matching cables and power bricks is also not recommended, as this may ruin your battery.
Keeping phones away from your bed can keep you safe and your phone in good working condition. If you have more home electrical safety concerns, an experienced electrician can help identify hazardous issues and safely perform installations and repairs.