Firefighters warn the dangers of charging devices in bed

Posted at 11:06 AM, Jul 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-29 11:06:28-04

OLIVET, Mich. (WSYM) - Charging one minute and in flames the next, firefighters tell FOX 47 News that's how quickly things can go wrong when you have a cell phone plugged in while you're in bed.

Many people use cell phones for an alarm clock and put them underneath a pillow or fall asleep on top of them.

Suffocating your phone like that could be a disaster.

The fire department in Newton New Hampshire is sounding the alarm about the dangers of doing so and advising parents to check the location of their kids' phone chargers. The department posted a photo on its Facebook page of a burned sheet and blanket with the warning, "The heat generated cannot dissipate and the charger will become hotter and hotter. The likely result is that the pillow/bed will catch fire. This places the child/teen as well as everyone else in the home in great danger. Please check where you & your family charge your mobile devices."

Okemos mom Stacy Christenson has a strict cell phone policy for her kids.

“My cell phone policy with own my kids is to not have one,” said Christenson.

Christenson has her reasons, safety being one of them.

“We've had some phones recalled because of the fact that their batteries heat up and explode or just start on fire,” said Christenson. “My concerns are in the physical aspect of what could happen in a room.”

Lieutenant Michael Mcleieer from the Olivet Fire Department says he's seen in increase in charging related fires.

Being covered by a fabric, especially while charging, causes serious overheating.

“It no longer can vent and the lithium batteries that are in these devices now produce an amount of heat when they are charging,” said Mcleieer. “Those devices need to release the heat through the vents that are there.”

Mcleieer says fabric is just the start, what you wash it with could make matters worse.

“Some of the laundry detergents or even fabric softeners we use can increase flammability even though they may have been designed with flame resistant retardant materials,” said Mcleieer. “When we introduce some of those laundry products it can increase the chance of flammability.”

Unplugging a charger from the wall once you’re done isn't a bad idea either.

“They (chargers) still actually draw a power source when they’re not charging just if they're left plugged into the wall,” said Mcleieer. “It’s a good habit to make sure we don't leave those devices left plugged in where they could overcharge and potentially cause a fire.”

You'll want to keep an eye on your pets as well. Make sure they're not laying on any device while it's being charged which can also be a fire hazard.

Replace fried and frayed charging cables as soon as possible.