Electronic charging devices, cables can pose fire risk

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Phone chargers, cables pose fire risk
WATCH ABOVE: Fire departments are warning consumers not to leave their phones and electronic devices charging unattended and overnight. Amanda Lapidus of Toronto knows that first hand after she woke up on e day in March to find her charging cable smoking hot and melting down beside her bed. Sean O’Shea reports – Apr 7, 2017

Registered dietician Amanda Lapidus was in bed one morning in late March with her iPad nearby.

“It was on the table beside my bed,” she said, adding it was plugged into a charger.

But when the Toronto woman touched the cord attached to the device, she knew right away there was a problem.

“I picked it up and it was extremely hot,” Lapidus told Global News.

READ MORE: A hidden fire danger in your home

The end of the cable was melting, so she disconnected it, ran to the bathroom and found a towel to snuff out a possible fire.

“I thought it was going to turn into a bigger fire,” she said. “I have two kids in the house and I was worried.”

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Fortunately, no one was injured and there was no damage. Since then, however, she said her iPad no longer charges as well as it did.

Lapidus was using a non-Apple charging device manufactured by Belkin, a large consumer electronics company. The device was Apple MFI certified, a designation that means “Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod.” She said she thought the cable would be safe to use.

Millions of consumers use electric chargers made by different manufacturers to recharge electronic devices such as phones, tablets and computers.

READ MORE: Could your cheap knock-off phone charger kill you?

But Apple warns customers to be careful. On the support page of its website, the company issues this caution: “Beware of counterfeit parts. Some counterfeit and third-party power adapters and batteries may not be designed properly and could result in safety issues.”

“To ensure you receive a genuine Apple battery during a battery replacement, we recommend visiting an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. If you need a replacement adapter to charge your Apple device, we recommend getting an Apple power adapter,” Apple says on its website.

Consumers worldwide often charge their phones in ways that may add to the risk. For example, many technology experts recommend against over-charging devices. Not only can that practice degrade the life of the battery, but it could cause overheating and fire.

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Charging devices overnight and at your bedside can be potentially dangerous, too.

“Apple or non-Apple, mobile devices and charging cables pose a fire risk. Please be mindful when charging electronics and unplug when not in use,” Richmond Hill’s fire department tweeted Friday.

Lapidus said Belkin has not yet addressed her concerns about overheating and the damage to her iPad, but she’s grateful everyone in her family is safe. She said the experience has changed how she uses her electronic devices.

“Before I probably would have left things charging all the time. Now I don’t.”

— With files from Alana MacLeod

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