If you’re like most people, you use your phone while it charges.
It’s a fairly common practice, but it could be potentially dangerous under the right circumstances. Phones that overcharge run the risk of burning their users—and while this is incredibly unlikely, certain factors can increase the risk.
First, it’s important to know that modern smartphones have chips that prevent overcharging. That means that unless something goes horribly wrong, your phone won’t overcharge.
However, design flaws can create a connection between your body and the electrical outlet under the right circumstances. Of course, that’s rare...but it does happen.
Take the case of Gabbie Fedro.
The 13-year-old was using her LG d500 as it was plugged into the wall. Her metal necklace apparently contacted the phone’s charge port, and electricity traveled around her neck, causing severe burns.
BuzzFeed News reached out to the United States Consumer Product Safety Division, which confirmed that similar injuries occur on occasion, usually when a cell phone user has an off-brand charger or a damaged phone. Injuries typically happen when a phone overcharges due to chip failures, but this wasn’t what happened in Gabby’s case.
“She came running downstairs after it [happened] grabbing her neck,” Jackie Fedro, Gabbie’s mother, told BuzzFeed News. “She was in so much pain, she was screaming hysterically.”
Some experts believe that keeping a phone plugged in can present other risks.
If you plug your phone in before going to bed, electricity could potentially arc from the charger and set your mattress on fire. Sadly, this is how many home fires start, as most mattresses are extremely flammable.
Experts recommend charging your phone away from your bed. It’s generally safe to leave your phone charging for long periods of time, as the phone will shut off automatically, but it’s safest to keep your phone off during long charges, as this reduces the risk of an overcharge.
Finally, use high-quality chargers from the brand that makes your phone. Off-brand accessories can be dangerous under the right circumstances, and there’s no reason to take unnecessary risks.