Surge can cause heart to stop beat­ing, says pro­fes­sor

New Straits Times - - News - SERI NADIAH KORIS AND TASNIM LOKMAN KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Kelly Koh

THE volt­age ca­pac­ity in a power bank is too low to cause death, but a surge caused by a short cir­cuit can cause a per­son’s heart to stop.

Univer­siti Te­knologi Malaysia Pro­fes­sor Dr Jas­rul Ja­mani Jamian, from the Elec­tri­cal Enginer­ing Fac­ulty, said it was safer to charge mo­bile phones us­ing power banks than elec­tri­cal sock­ets.

This, he said, was due to the lim­ited power sup­ply in power banks as op­posed to the con­tin­u­ous elec­tric­ity flow from wall sock­ets.

Jas­rul said the death of the 19year-old teen in Me­laka re­cently could oc­cur only if there was elec­tric cur­rent flow­ing to the heart caused by a short cir­cuit in the power bank.

“Many peo­ple think that a low volt­age such as 12 volts could not pos­si­bly kill some­one.

“How­ever, a short cir­cuit from a 12-volt source can pro­duce a high cur­rent and death can oc­cur when this cur­rent flows through the heart.

“For ex­am­ple, an av­er­age value of 2.1 am­pere out­put cur­rent is nor­mal for power banks, but a short cir­cuit cur­rent in power banks can ex­ceed 100 am­peres.

“It takes only 0.5 am­peres of elec­tri­cal di­rect cur­rent to the heart to cause death.

“Ther­mal run­away oc­curs in a very short time and when in con­tact with the body, it can cause burns to the skin and more se­vere con­se­quences,” he told the New Straits Times.

Jas­rul said peo­ple were not en­cour­aged to put mo­bile phones or power banks close to their body when charg­ing their phones at night.

“This is im­por­tant to avoid in­jury due to short cir­cuit in power banks.

“Con­sumers also need to know the qual­ity of power banks or phones that they buy as some items (can be) fake and have no short-cir­cuit pro­tec­tion.”

He added that it was un­likely that ear­phones would trans­mit elec­tric­ity to the body.

On Fri­day, the 19-year-old teen was found dead in his bed­room in Taman Mer­bok in Bukit Baru, Me­laka. His body was dis­cov­ered by his mother, 48, who went to wake him up at 7am.

The mother used a du­pli­cate key to open her son’s bed­room door and found him mo­tion­less on his bed.

The vic­tim had his ear­phones on. The ear­phones were con­nected to a mo­bile phone that was con­nected to a power bank.

He had burn in­juries on his left shoul­der near where the power bank was placed.

Fed­er­a­tion of Malaysian Con­sumers As­so­ci­a­tions pres­i­dent Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nada­son urged con­sumers to prac­tise cau­tion when us­ing mo­bile phones.

Mo­hamad Isa Md Saleh, a mo­bile phone trader at Me­laka Sen­tral, said he ad­vised his cus­tomers not to charge their mo­bile phones and power banks overnight.

“Over­charg­ing can cause a short cir­cuit in the long term,” he said, adding that one of his cus­tomer’s power bank ex­ploded while be­ing charged.

The cus­tomer, he said, had bought the power bank on­line and when he and the cus­tomer ex­am­ined the ex­ploded de­vice, they dis­cov­ered that it had no short-cir­cuit pro­tec­tion.

In Me­laka, po­lice said fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions were needed be­fore the teen’s cause of death could be de­ter­mined.

State Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment chief As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Ka­malud­din Kas­sim said: “We have sub­mit­ted the re­sults to the Chem­istry Depart­ment, and we are wait­ing for the re­sults to de­ter­mine his cause of death.

“It could be due to elec­tro­cu­tion or car­diac ar­rest,” he said, adding that po­lice had ruled out foul play. He added that nei­ther the mo­bile phone nor the power bank had ex­ploded.

The story of the teen’s death has gone vi­ral, with Ne­ti­zens alarmed that such a thing could hap­pen.

The story posted on NST’s Facebook page re­ceived 2,000 re­ac­tions within a short space of time, with peo­ple tag­ging friends and fam­ily mem­bers so that they, too, could read it.

Ka­malud­din Kas­sim

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