Teenager dies after electrocution from earphones

A 16-year-old from Malaysia has been killed after earphones plugged into his phone electrocuted him.

Mohd Aidi Azzhar Zahrin was found dead last week with burns to the ears – and no other external injuries – after having listened to music from a phone plugged into mains on charge. Zahrin’s brother reports feeling a small electrical shock while examining the offending charge cable, suggesting faulty wiring could be to blame.

Neither the model of the phone or the earphones has been revealed. However, according to Shure, most earphones require 0.001 Watts to reach 122dB, a level around as loud as a thunderclap,  which is rarely reached due to being above the human pain threshold. To lethally electrocute someone a  minimum of 30 Watts is required, and even then the skin would need to be wet and in an area of little resistance. By this deduction,  it’s implausible the earphones could have been the cause of the electrocution.

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This isn’t the first case of earphone-related electrocutions this year. People from India, Brazil and Australia have been killed by electrocution from listening to music while charging their phones. The latter involved a faulty USB charging cable, however, chargers aren’t at fault in every case — most of the victims were affected by power surges, or changes to the mains power while the device was plugged in.

Charging phones has proven to be a dangerous venture overall, with an American almost killed last year because he slept on his iPhone while it was charging. Smartphones tend to be the biggest culprits, likely because other plugged-in devices have an increased number of resistors in place, and perhaps not as many people are using them in bed.

These cases are sobering reminders of the potential dangers of household technology . In several cases non-regulation chargers, the type you buy cheaply online or at discount stores, were pointed to as potential causes of the electrocution. However, the largest takeaway from these stories should be to avoid listening to music while a mobile phone is charging – with wired headphones, at least.

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