Damaged Phone Charger

Mobile Phone causes fire in Campervan

Fire safety has always been an important topic for campervan and motorhome owners, as if a fire breaks out in these types of vehicles they can quickly spread and cause a considerable amount of damage. As most motorhomes and campervans have cooking equipment installed, owners have to ensure that these appliances are checked on a regular basis and are properly turned off when not in use.

However, last month we heard of another unfortunate incident of a campervan catching fire, but this time it was caused by an exploding mobile phone. At about 10:20pm on Canterbury Road, Densole, firefighters were called to a campervan that had burst into flames due to a mobile phone battery exploding whilst being left on charge.

Due to the extent of the fire, firefighters had to use breathing equipment and a hose real to extinguish the fire before isolating the vehicle’s batteries and removing a gas bottle. A spokesperson for Kent Fire and Rescue said: “It is believed a mobile phone overheated causing its battery to explode, which set fire to furnishings and the interior of the campervan.”

Luckily no-one was hurt during the fire as the campervan was unoccupied, however the vehicle itself suffered extensive damage. This is a dangerous reminder to motorhome and campervan owners that it’s not just cooking equipment they need to be careful of in their motorhomes, but also electronic devices including mobile phones and tablets.

Portable electronic devices are not particularly dangerous or likely to explode when in use, however when they are being charged they can present an issue. One of the biggest reasons why mobile phones overheat whilst on charge is because consumers tend to buy non-branded chargers that are not regulated as well as those made by official manufacturers.

According to Electrical Safety First, a UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electronic devices, over 1.8million phone chargers are bought online in the UK each year, many of which are made in countries such as China. Furthermore, in the past 4 years the UK has seen a six-fold increase in the amount of counterfeit electrical goods such as chargers being seized by UK Border Control.

Therefore, the best way to ensure that your chargers are is safe is to only buy them from an official manufacturer such as Apple, Samsung or Blackberry. However, if you are concerned that your charger is unsafe, Electrical Safety First has a three-point checklist that you can use:

  1. Plug Pins – Make sure these are 9.5mm apart and can plug in easily. If you are having issues plugging your charger in it could be dangerous.
  2. Markings – Check for brand names, logos, CE marks and information about voltage and current ratings.
  3. Warnings and Instructions – All companies should provide basic warnings and instructions on how to use their chargers.

Along with making sure that you only purchase genuine chargers from official manufacturers, when charging your phone you can also take precautions to keep your motorhome safe. For instance, never overload a socket as this is actually a very common issue and can lead to blow outs and fires. Furthermore, never plug an extension lead into another extension lead as this can also cause overloading, and don’t forget that just because a socket has four or six plug in points it’s not always safe to use them all!

On a final note, we know that these days most of us like to keep our mobile phones near our beds at night just in case something happens, however as they can be a fire hazard whilst charging you may be better off either keeping them in another room or charging them during the day instead. There are some studies that also claim that keeping your mobile near your bed at night can disrupt sleep, however there is no concrete evidence to prove this.

Mobile phones are not often viewed as fire hazards, which is why when something does go wrong they can cause a large amount of damage in a short amount of time. Hopefully, the tips above will help you stay safe in your motorhome and reduce the danger of your mobile phones, tablets, laptops or any other electronic devices.

Photo by José Fonseca / CC BY 2.0

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