Exploding phones might sound like something out of a Mission Impossible movie. But it happens more often than you might think. What could cause your phone to explode?

Could it explode while you’re using it? Can you keep your phone from exploding? Usually, your phone is with you. It’s in your pocket, your purse, or next to your face if you’re using it. So if your phone catches fire or explodes, you could be hurt. Here are some ways to avoid that.

Step 1: Location Matters

Apple says that the iPhone should not get hotter than 45°C (113°F). But don’t leave any phone in your car. Heat can build up fast there, and the lithium-ion cells in your cell phone’s battery have a critical temperature, sort of like a boiling point. When a battery reaches that temperature, it can go into an exothermic breakdown and release heat.

This is like a feedback loop. If one cell starts releasing heat, it affects the cells nearby, and they’ll heat up and reach the critical temperature too. The battery cells could permanently short out, and even start producing oxygen and carbon dioxide gases. The gases can make the battery swell and compromise its structure. Fortunately, your phone isn’t likely to explode after just sitting in the car. But if you notice your phone swelling, it could be a warning.

Step 2: Don’t Charge in a Hot Spot

When you need to charge your phone, don’t put it where extra heat could build up, like in direct sunlight, on a car dashboard, under your pillow, or next to a heat source. A girl in Kazakhstan died when her phone exploded beside her bed. She plugged her phone in, and listened to music, and fell asleep. She suffered severe head injuries from the blast and died instantly.

Step 3: Don’t Be Cheap

Use a reliable charging device. An uncertified or cheap charger can generate excess heat that will damage the battery, over time, by causing shorts in it. This would make your phone break before it explodes, but you don’t want a broken phone either.

And if you notice that your phone is getting hot, stop charging it. Overcharging used to be a problem for lithium-ion batteries, and it did cause some to explode. It doesn’t usually happen now because newer devices can manage power better. They gradually reduce the amount of current as the phone’s battery recharges. But if your phone is charging and it feels warm, it’s a good idea to stop charging it.

Step 4: Think Fast

Have you ever put your phone in your front pocket? A hotel employee’s phone started to blow up in his face, and his shirt caught on fire. The man was able to remove his shirt and avoid further injuries.

Step 5: Prepare for the aftermath

Be prepared for the events that could happen after a phone explodes or catches on fire. It could cause a fire in your house or car. And you could suffer from burns on your skin, or shards of glass from the screen could hit you. If this happens, get to a hospital or get medical attention right away.

If you see the warning signs of a potential battery explosion, like bulging, a hissing noise coming from near the battery, or if the phone gets hot and doesn’t cool down, shut it off. Don’t carry on as usual. We put so much trust in our devices that sometimes we forget that they aren’t perfect.

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