UFD: Marshal warns of fire hazards from frayed phone chargers

UTICA, N.Y.--After Utica fire officials determined a frayed phone charger was the cause of a Conkling Ave. house fire, the department's Chief Fire Marshal is advising cell phone users of proper device safety.

Posted: Jan 25, 2018 12:31 AM

UTICA, N.Y.--After Utica fire officials determined a frayed phone charger was the cause of a Conkling Ave. house fire, the department's chief fire marshal is advising cell phone users of proper device safety.

He says worn cell phone chargers can splinter, even if the plastic casing isn't split.

"As you break them, it's going to have a little tiny gap," Raymond Centolella, Chief Fire Marshal said.  "It doesn't have enough voltage to bridge that gap, but you've created all that heat in there."

Centolella says a charging phone isn't necessary for an old cord to overheat.

"I could have my phone plugged in for eight hours, unplug it and leave," Centolella said. "Now if my cord was in that blanket and wrapped up in there overnight for 12 hours, it could be smoldering and smoldering in there, I didn't smell it or see it."

Centolella says devices should only be charged on a hard, flat surface, far away from textiles and other flammable materials.

Even if you can't see frayed wires, Centolella says there are several indicators of a cord's age.

"If I gently pull on it and it comes out, it's worn out," Centolella said. "If I have to wiggle my phone in order for the little thing to come on and say it's charging, the cord is no good."

Centolella says most phone providers can test a cord's functionality for free. He also recommends using only the cord that came with a device to charge or transfer data.

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