Apple iPhones should carry warning after man is electrocuted in bath, says coroner

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A coroner has called for iPhones to carry safety warnings after a man was electrocuted and died when trying to charge his smartphone in the bath.

Richard Bull, 32, died in his home in Ealing, west London, when his charger made contact with his bathwater on 11 December.

Assistant coroner Dr Sean Cummings said at Mr Bull’s inquest: “[iPhones] seem like innocuous devices but they can be as dangerous as a hairdryer in a bathroom.

“They should attach warnings.”

Dr Cummings said he will write a prevention of future death report to send to Apple.

Mr Bull is understood to have plugged the iphone and charger into an extension cord from the hallway in his home to allow it to reach the bathroom, and rested it on his chest while using the phone, according to The Sun.

He suffered severe burns to his hand, arm and chest when the charger touched the water. His wife Tanya found him in the bath and initially believed he had been attacked due to the severity of his injuries.

His death was ruled accidental.

Steve Curtler, a product safety manager, told the BBC that devices such as iPhones and laptops have relatively low voltages of between 5V and 20V, which people would be unlikely to be electrocuted by if they came into contact with water.

The increase in risk of electrocution comes when devices are plugged into a mains supply: “Although the cable that is plugged into your phone is 5V, somewhere along the line it’s plugged into the electricity supply and you’re reliant on that cable and a transformer to make sure you don’t get into contact with the mains voltage,” he said.

The Independent has contacted Apple for comment.