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In my country, someone died recently due to an electric shock when their smartphone fell in a bathtub. I'm trying to understand what's going on the charger side when a poor quality cable used to charge the phone accidentally falls into the water.

The press article say :

The device was in charge, explains the regional daily which recalls that a young had suffered the same fate in December when her cell phone fell in the water.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How does that explain why the residual current device didn't trip? How does that explain why the charger failed short circuit internally? An explanation requires evidence / analysis of the failures that led to this fatality. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Feb 12, 2020 at 12:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you have no idea about what I mentioned then there's little point trying to invent any theory about this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Feb 12, 2020 at 12:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Take a look at this video of Electroboom: youtu.be/SHGo-52wCDc?t=70 (1:10) \$\endgroup\$
    – Codebeat
    Feb 12, 2020 at 12:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Rcd is what Andy referred to Residual Current Device... \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 12, 2020 at 12:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because so far, too less information is provided, which leads to only speculations and makes this "question" (what is the question anyway?) unanswerable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Huisman
    Feb 12, 2020 at 13:35

1 Answer 1

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The dangerous mains voltage should only be present on the live contact of the mains socket. The earth contact should have a low or zero voltage so that it is safe to touch. As the installation was deemed correct we can assume that the earth contact was properly connected.

It is the task of the charger to separate the (dangerous) mains voltage from harming the (human) user.

The charging cable only conducts the safe (mains isolated) low voltage to the phone. The cable should have no unsafe connection to the mains as the charger must take care of the isolation from the mains.

The phone connects to the cable so the same that is true for the cable is true for the phone, it should not have any unsafe connection to mains power.

So my conclusion is that the charger must have been faulty and/or is of a type that did not provide enough mains isolation and/or was getting too humid. In the manual of the charger it usually states that the charger should not be used under very humid conditions.

On a good (and dry) charger, you can touch the low voltage (USB) output as much as you like using your fingers or a broken cable and nothing should happen.

On top of that you would need to be quite unlucky to get shocked in such a way that you (immediately?) die.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Indeed, I routinely stick the phone end of my charger on my tongue to see if it is producing any output when the phone doesn't react to me plugging it in.. I can't absolutely confirm that it has had no deleterious affects on my brain function though :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Caius Jard
    Feb 12, 2020 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your opinion and informations. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ephemeral
    Feb 12, 2020 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CaiusJard, have you had any problems with corrosion on the connector as a result of putting saliva on the contacts? \$\endgroup\$
    – jsotola
    Feb 12, 2020 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or the person tried to unplug the charger with wet hands and got water in the socket. Maybe. Or they got water in the charger. Maybe. It's still a bad idea to bring electronics into the bath because you might break the electronics. \$\endgroup\$
    – user253751
    Feb 12, 2020 at 16:58

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