‘Lucky Escape’ for 11-Year-Old as Hot Tablet Burns Through Mattress as He Sleeps

June 24, 2019 Updated: June 24, 2019

An 11-year-old British boy had a “lucky escape” when a tablet burned through his mattress down to the springs, but never developed into a full fire and never burned him as he slept.

According to firefighters, the tablet—which had been plugged in since the previous evening—was connected to a genuine charger, but became hot as it lay on his bed on the night of June 19.

“Fortunately for the family, it did not develop into a full fire but had smoldered throughout the night,” said a statement from the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. “When the boy awoke the next morning, he discovered the hole in his bed, and his room was covered in a layer of black soot.”

The fire service provided a picture of the tablet, which was blackened and melted in an oblong area on one side. The cable appeared to have melted into the rest of the blackened mass of the device.

The device appeared to carry Samsung branding. Samsung has been contacted for comment but has not responded at the time of writing.

The fire service did not directly reveal the brand or name of the device but said that according to the family, it had been purchased brand new four years ago.

A picture of a melted and burned tablet and mattress, which occurred when the device was left plugged in for over 24 hours, according to Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, on June 19, 2019. (SFRS)

The fire service said it had burned through to the mattress springs.

The boy’s father called firefighters when he discovered the device in the morning.

“This family has been greatly shocked by what has happened and it serves as a stark reminder not to leave items charging on materials that could catch fire when hot,”  said Staffordshire firefighter Brad Robins.

“Always place phones and tablets on to a safe surface when charging. Make sure you buy genuine chargers for your items and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to register your product in case there is a product recall.”

Phone Explosions and Electrocutions

But the potential dangers of smart devices left plugged in overnight—often near or in bed—isn’t limited to the device getting too hot if plugged into the wrong cables.

With phone ownership rocketing over the last decade, stories of electrocution via smartphone chargers have started to appear in recent years, especially among teenagers.

Last year a Russian schoolgirl and martial arts champion died of electrocution when her phone fell into the bath as she charged it.

In December, a Malaysian teenager was found dead by his mother with no signs of injury other than bleeding from his left ear, with an earbud still in his ear. He is thought to have been shocked through the earbuds plugged into his phone while it charged.

An earphone with exposed wires is shown in this file image (Flickr)
An earphone with exposed wires is shown in this file image. (Flickr)

Last year, in Vietnam another teenager was reportedly killed by a faulty cable that was charging her phone on her bed as she slept.

Le Thi Xoan, 14, was found by her parents lying on her bed unconscious in November last year, The Sun reported. Her parents rushed her to a local hospital but doctors were unable to revive her.

A burned white iPhone 6 cable was found on her bed by police in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. It is thought that tears in the cord’s casing exposed the live wires inside and that she had rolled onto it in her sleep.

Battery Explosions

With more and more devices—from vape pens to laptops—boasting more and more powerful batteries, explosions, fires and accompanying burns and injuries have increasingly become a concern, especially from poorly made devices.

Last year an 18-year-old girl died after her smartphone exploded while she was on a call in India.

Local media reported that Uma Oram, of Kheriakani in the eastern state of Odisha, was on the phone with a relative while her phone was charging on March 16, when the device exploded. The blast was so strong it caused severe burns to her chest, left hand, and right leg, reported Asian Age.

In 2018 a 12-year-old boy was seriously injured after a cellphone suddenly exploded while it was being charged in China.

Chinese media reported that Meng Jisu lost his right index finger and became blinded in his right eye due to the explosion, which occurred as the boy was reaching for the charging phone at his home in Guangxi province on Jan. 31.

The culprit was reportedly a 2-year-old Hua Tang VT-V59, a Chinese-made phone.

Other people have been injured by explosions from batteries in vape pens.

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