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Young teenager burned when iPhone suddenly catches fire

Product safety testing is a messy job, but one that is vitally important. Manufacturers often hire testers to use, misuse and abuse their products in nearly every conceivable way in order to determine when the products are likely to break down and what happens when they do.

The goal is to ensure that even when it is being handled less than carefully by a consumer, a given product does not become dangerous to the point of causing severe injuries or death. As just one example, Apple may now need to figure out why a nearly new iPhone caught fire in a teenager’s back pocket and caused severe burn injuries.

According to a recent news article, a 13-year-old girl in Maine suffered second-degree burns when her iPhone 5C began to smoke and eventually caught fire in her back pocket. The girl was in school at the time and the incident was witnessed by other students in the classroom.

The phone was only two months old, which suggests that the fire wasn’t related to a botched repair or an incorrect replacement part. A photo of the device shows that it is so charred as to be barely recognizable as an iPhone.

At present, this seems to have been an isolated incident. Nonetheless, Apple may be wise to compensate the injured iPhone owner and to figure out what caused the device to catch fire in the first place.

Consumers will likely use products in ways that the manufacturers never intended or even thought about. This is especially true with something as versatile as a smart phone. In light of this, manufacturers have a responsibility to make sure that even when their products fail, they do so relatively safely.

Source: Geek, “iPhone 5C catches fire in child’s back pocket causing severe burns,” Russell Holly, Feb. 3, 2014

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