Doctors are sounding a warning over cellphone chargers after a 19-year-old Michigan woman suffered second-degree burns to her neck reportedly after her charger conducted an electrical current through her chain necklace.
The incident was detailed in a case report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, which emphasizes the risk to children and adolescents and highlighted the safety concerns surrounding off-brand charging products.
The report, published July 17, said the young woman was taken to the pediatric emergency department at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a severe burn around her neck.
“She was lying in bed wearing a chain necklace, with the charger underneath her pillow and plugged into an electrical outlet, when she felt a sudden burning sensation and severe pain around her neck,” the report said.
“She likely sustained an electrical injury from the charger as it came in contact with her necklace, causing a burn.”
The young woman was released on the same day after treatment and was prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.
The report’s lead author, Dr. Carissa Bunke, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan hospital, said in a statement that generic electronics chargers could cause burns and electrocutions, so parents should be cautious.
“Teens and adolescents are particularly at risk of injury due to their frequent mobile device use. They should be advised to not sleep with their phones or mobile devices charging in bed and avoid leaving the charger plugged in when it is not connected to a phone.”
The Annals of Emergency Medicine report said several companies had investigated the difference in safety and quality of generic versus Apple-branded chargers, with the findings indicating the majority of off-brand chargers failed basic safety testing.
HuffPost spoke Friday with technicians at several electronics and phone repair stores who were unable to provide details about the specific health risks of using off-brand chargers. However, the resounding advice was to stick to the branded products.
Rob Wang at WhatTheFone iPhone Repair Fix in Brisbane, Australia, said that generic brand chargers could also cause damage to the phone itself.
“I always say it’s better to buy the original cable,” Wang said. “It’s not expensive, $29 from the Apple store instead of $10 from Target or Kmart, so it’s better to just buy the original cable.”
Eddie Prestopine, manager of CPR Cell Phone Repair in Shreveport, Louisiana, told ABC affiliate KTBS3 he had multiple customers a day report burns to clothing or skin using uncertified chargers.
“There are different types of cables, you have Apple certified and non-certified. Apple has a tiny chip that corresponds with the phone; if it doesn’t have the chip it could bring too much power to the phone and overheat it,” he told KTBS3.
Another incident cited by the case report described a young man who was thrown from his bed when using an original Apple-brand cord that came into contact with a chain he was wearing.
The authors urged families to educate themselves about the safe use of charging devices.
This article has been updated with comment from store technicians.