Residents told to monitor electronic devices properly when they are being charged

A social media user who received burns to the lower back by a laptop which was left charging on her bed (Social media photo)

A viral photograph of the back of a female, who was reportedly burnt by a laptop which was left charging overnight on her bed, has prompted a Fire Prevention Officer and a Computer Technology expert to warn about the potentially dangerous practice.

In an interview with our newsroom yesterday, Yves Ephraim, the Manager of Pegasus Technologies explained that many people are not aware of the fact that the processor in a laptop runs at a temperature of about 55 degrees Celsius and the device is designed to fit on a flat surface where there is a clear air flow and no vent is blocked.

“When those vents are blocked, the heat builds up inside the PC; and when this happens, components overheat and it could burst into flames and cause a fire,” Ephraim said.

He said laptops should not be placed on someone’s legs, bed, sheets, or any other soft surface.

The same applies for cellular phones, he said. “If you have the cell phone on your bed and the connection is faulty, it can overheat and could spontaneously burst into flames. They are electronic devices and we should not be taking them to bed.”

On Sunday, a social media user posted photographs on her Facebook page showing what appears to be possible second- and third-degree burns to her lower back which were reportedly caused by a laptop.

In the post, the user, identified as “La Wayne”, thanked the doctors and nurses at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) for the care and treatment she received during the time of her injuries.

She also warned: “Youall who love to sleep with your devices on the bed, for example, a laptop, let this be a warning to you.”

The woman, in response to a text from our newsroom, indicated that she has since received treatment for the injuries which were not life threatening.

Meantime, Corporal Anderson Tuitt of the Fire Department said fire officers rarely respond to incidents of this nature; however, the proper use and care of electronic devices is a big component of the fire department’s public education campaign.

“We do advise people not to charge electronic devices on mattresses because they are highly flammable. If in the event you have to, we ask people to get a sheet of plywood to hold the device and rest it on that. The heat that is given off from the device would not be substantial enough to burn through any plywood, but it would be enough to burn the mattress,” Corporal Tuitt said.

According to research conducted online, many people use laptops right in their laps but aren’t aware that this could cause burns and other damages to the skin, due to long-term heat exposure.

Laptop burn is a real condition and medical reports indicate that using a laptop across the legs can indeed cause it. In very rare cases, the condition can cause damage leading to skin cancer.

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