What happens if you drop your smartphone in the bathtub?

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If your smartphone falls into the bathtub, can it cause electrocution and death? The answer is in this article.

Recently, a 25-year-old man died after being electrocuted in his bathtub. His smartphone had fallen into the water while its owner was bathing. This begs the question of whether we should remove our phones from the bathroom during our daily personal hygiene routine. The answer is yes – and no.

A smartphone while charging
Brief background: in this dramatic household accident, which occurred on February 5, 2023, in the Haute-Loire region of France, it wasn’t just the smartphone that fell into the water. Namely, the device fell while it was under power. Le Progrès reports:

[The young man] reportedly dropped his cell phone into the water while charging it.
And this detail makes all the difference.

A question of voltage

Most smartphones today are waterproof. That doesn’t mean they can survive a dive, but they are designed to be submerged for a relatively short time. So if they accidentally fall into an occupied bathtub, they won’t cause electrocution, and the same is true for the non-waterproof models.

Engineer Steve Fowler experimented using probes after dropping a smartphone into the water. His conclusion: “Cell phones alone are not capable of delivering a shock strong enough to be dangerous.” That’s because of the low voltage these devices produce.

But beware: in contrast, a plugged-in device is extremely dangerous and can cause electrocution in the event of an accident.

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