AH Tech Talk: Death, Another Shocking Feature of iPhones?

It's not a funny headline. In China, Ma Ailun's sister has actually reported that Ma was electrocuted to death when she answered her iPhone after getting out of the bath last Saturday, July 13.  Ma Ailun, a 23 year old flight attendant who worked for China Southern Airlines, fell to the floor after she tried to answer a phone call on her charging iPhone.  Originally the iPhone 5 has been reported as the guilty phone, but now reports are the iPhone 4 was the phone she was using. The sad thing is that Ma was engaged to be married on August 8.

Ma's sister has posted this on China's largest social media website, Sina Weibo; Sina Weibo is billed as China's version of Twitter.  Even though local authorities have not officially blamed Apple, the story has gone viral in China and worldwide.  The post has been reposted more than 3,000 times and has given concern as to whether Apple phones are safe to use while charging.  Even though this should not suddenly be considered fact, those concerned should give serious consideration before answering a phone call while charging their phone.

Ma's older sister has asked Apple why this has happened. Local police have confirmed that electrocution was the cause of Ma's death, and Apple has confirmed that they will work with local authorities and will perform their own investigation.

Apple told Reuters "We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family. We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter."  Apple has cited that this would probably be an isolated case, and hence declined to give any further comment.

The latest reports state that Ma may have been using a third-party charger instead of one bought at an Apple store as originally reported. The charger that she may have been using might not have had the safety features built into it that Apple uses. That is something to think about before buying a charger that is not original equipment (OEM). Third party hardware is not always built with the same rigid specs that OEM hardware uses. Also, in America new homes are built with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets and many older homes have them in wet areas of the homes as well. Had Ma's home had a GFCI outlet, this tragedy probably could have been prevented. It is also good policy to not use plugged in electronic devices while in a wet area.

Whether this is a freak incident or a sign of more to come has yet to be decided. Even though I have an Android, I still have to be concerned about non-OEM products. Do you think you should take extra precautions when buying accessories? Let me know your thoughts and keep in touch to learn about further developments.

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