When things go wrong with technology, the results can often be dire. Who can forget the cell phone battery explosions that caused a global recall of the product? Not the ideal situation for the many people who like to keep their phones within a fingertip’s reach.

We all know it’s not the healthiest habit to stay glued to your cell phone at bedtime. But there’s another downside to that habit besides disrupted sleep cycles. As we stay up in bed (and fall asleep) to play games, send texts, listen to music, or use a phone’s alarm clock, we could be taking a risk.

Many of us charge our phones overnight, which causes the battery or charger to heat up. That heat is a fire hazard.

The Newton, New Hampshire Fire Department posted a PSA on Facebook this month about the dangers of sleeping with a charging device. If you have a child or teen in your home that likes to snuggle up with their phone or tablet at night, it’s time to nip that in the bud.

In the announcement, pictures of scorch marks on sheets demonstrate the very real effect of leaving your phone in bed to charge. Doing so can generate so much heat that it can ignite a fire! The fire department wrote:

“Research has revealed that 53% of children/teens charge their phone or tablet either on their bed or under their pillow. This is can be extremely dangerous. 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.”

In addition to batteries overheating on flammable surfaces, there’s another fire hazard associated with devices in bed. The charger itself can catch on fire. Chargers that show signs of fraying or those that are incompatible with a device have an increased chance to go up in flames.

Image of burn marks on bed.Newton NH Fire Department via Facebook

Those cheap aftermarket chargers bought online can cause battery overheating, electrocutions, burns, or fires. Be sure that the wattage is compatible with your device before purchasing; otherwise, buy one from a reputable source.

Fire departments around the globe are sharing this photo along with a message about fire safety to promote awareness among kids and adults. After responding to a house fire started by a device on a charger, an Alabama fire department shared these tips for charging devices like phones, tablets, or laptops:

  • Keep your device on a hard surface while charging
  • To reduce the chances of being burned if your device overheats or catches fire, don’t use it while it’s charging
  • Do not leave a charging device on soft surfaces like a sofa or bed
  • Replace accessories or other parts that have excessive wear – batteries, cords, etc. – because they can spark and cause a fire.

Because we have so many more electronic devices in our bedrooms these days, taking extra precautions to prevent fires is necessary. Spread the word about charging phones in bed to your children, teens, and college kids to keep them safe!

Do you have a habit of charging your phone in bed? Has your device ever overheated?