Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Urban Legend, Cell Phone Danger While Charging

I received quite a few panic emails from friends about a danger associated with using a cell phone while it is charging. It seemed that people just madly forwarded this piece around to everyone.

I have included, in italics, at the very end of this post, the email that I received many, many copies of.

Here is my take:
ANY appliance that is plugged into the utility power line (A.C. power line) could conceivably give a shock to a person who is touching/holding the appliance. This would probably be due to leakage currents from the power supply. In the case of an appliance like a cell phone, the power supply is the small box that typically plugs into the A.C. wall socket. A well made, properly tested power supply will not do this unless it has been mistreated. Mistreating includes, but is not limited-to, allowing a liquid (water, coffee, soda pop, etc) to drip or pour onto it (the appliance).

Furthermore, if the person who is touching the appliance had wet hands or was standing in water, this risk of shock could be more.

I emphasize that this can happen with any appliance that plugs into the A.C. line. Consider electric razors, hair dryers, curling irons, electric coffee pots - just to name a few.

I would categorize this as something of an Urban Legend because the email (see below) seems to implicate cell phones, whereas in reality this situation could occur with any appliance. To come away from reading the email (below) with the idea that using them while plugged in is bad, and simultaneously not appreciating the inherent danger of any appliance, is something of a hysterical episode.

I frequently use my cell phone while it is plugged in. I do not use curling irons, though - I am bald

Here is the text of the email that I received.

I've done this too! Never thought about how dangerous it might be.

Recharging Cell Phones

I went to to ! be sure it wasn't an urban legend &
it's not. It is very true! And I do this all the time! Not anymore!!!!

This seems important enough to forward to others. It's wise to
be safe and safe being wise. This was also on ?Pittsburgh's WTAE
4 News.

Never, ever answer a cell phone while it is being CHARGED!!

few days ago, a person was recharging his cell phone at home.
Just at that time a call came and he answered it with the instrument
still connected to the outlet. After a few seconds electricity flowed
into the cell phone unrestrained and the young man was thrown to the
ground with a heavy thud. His parents
rushed to the room only t! o find him unconscious, with a weak
heartbeat and burnt fingers.

He was rushed to the nearby hospital, but was pronounced dead
on arrival. Cell phones are a very useful modern invention. However, we
must be aware that it can also be an instrument of death.

Never use the cell phone while it is hooked to the electrical

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