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Your Headphones Could Electrocute You, But Here’s How to Tame Them

Now don’t be alarmed... but do be careful. We’ll tell you how.

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Tech and Auto
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A 22-year-old man was electrocuted in Haryana earlier this week while listening to music using wired headphones while his mobile phone was charging.

Thath Singh, 22, a resident of Pandyo village in Yamunanagar district around 100 km from Chandigarh, died on Tuesday due to the electric shock received through the headphones.  

Police officials said the incident took place when the victim put his phone on charge and started listening to music. At that time, there was no electricity supply in his house.

As he was listening to the music, the electricity supply was restored which subsequently lead to Thath’s electrocution.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital from where he was referred to a hospital in Yamunanagar town. However, the doctors could not save him.

There have been reports of people getting electrocuted by their headphones while the device was charging.

In 2014, a nurse from Philippines died of an electric shock as she was talking to her friend while charging her phone via the USB.

Also, recently, a woman from Tamil Nadu died in a similar incident. The 46-year-old woman hooked up her headphones and was electrocuted in Kanathur on Sunday after falling asleep while listening to music.

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Here’s how and why this happens, and how you can prevent yourself from getting electrocuted by your headphones:

1. Static Energy

One of the reasons is static energy buildup. The static charge builds up in your body until it reaches a threshold voltage where it can arc from your ear to the wires in the earbuds (fairly short distance), which is when you get a shock.

The situation is similar to dragging your feet across a carpet and receiving a static shock when you touch a doorknob.

Why Static Energy Builds Up

  • Dry, low-humidity environments
  • Very windy environments
  • Moving your device in and out of your pocket
  • Jogging or exercising with your device
  • Clothes made with synthetic fibers, like nylon
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2. Faulty Electrical Fitting

  • If your office's or home's electrical installations are not fitted well, you might get electric shocks from any metal component you touch.

3. Other, More Common Reasons

There are other reasons that can lead to people getting electrocuted by their devices. Here are a few:

  • If your headphones have any exposed metal component.
  • If you are using a substandard charger. A wall socket usually has an output of 240 volts while most modern phone chargers give an output of 5 volts. Bringing down the power from 240 to 5 volts is an expensive affair. Hence, if a charger is too cheap, during malfunctions, it sends the complete 240volts up the earphones to the head. Hence, cheap chargers increase the chances of getting electrocuted to a huge extent.
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Preventing Electrocution

  • Wear clothes that are made with natural fibres, like cotton. Synthetic fibers are more likely to hold a static charge.
  • Keep your device out of the wind by using a case or leaving it in your bag or pocket.
  • Don't frequently move your device in and out of your pockets. Rubbing the device on certain materials can cause a static buildup.

Other Reasons

  • The first and foremost way to avoid any such mishap is to not use headphones while charging your phone.
  • Get your home/office fittings checked by an electrician regularly.
  • Do not use a pair where the wire coating is torn/metal parts are exposed
  • If you can, invest in a pair of good quality headphones with proper padding and protection.
  • Use only the specific phone’s charger.
  • Do not fall asleep with earphones on.
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(With inputs from IANS and the Times of India)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Headphones   Electrocuted   Electrocution 

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