The Houston Fire Department is warning parents about the dangers of kids playing with cell phones while the devices are plugged into the wall.

The cautionary tale hit home for Fire Chief Christian Hartley after a phone charger caught fire while his son was sleeping.

“He was in his room, playing on his phone, fell asleep and managed to roll over on to it,” Hartley said. “The phone overheated to the point where the cord itself caught fire.”

He said his older son smelled the burning plastic and alerted the family. The phone and the charger are fried but Hartley’s younger son was unharmed.

He posted the saga to the department's Facebook page to show families what can happen if a cable gets covered up.


“Any time you trap the heat in any electrical current it can overheat to the point where it melts the rubber insulation on the outside,” Hartley said.

It’s not the first time he’s seen the damage electricity can do. Another Facebook showed the charred aftermath of a portable dishwasher plugged into an extension cord.

“This was plugged in for less than 12 hours and you can see how much melting had occurred. It’s important people realize that electricity produces heat,” Hartley said.

Hartley advises people to only use extension cords for a short period of time and never cover them up with a rug or large appliance. He also urges parents to discourage their children from playing with cell phones while they’re charging.

“A cell phone can turn itself off if it overheats, an extension cord cannot,” he said.

It’s a lesson learned and passed along so other families won’t have to experience the same ordeal.

“No matter how much training you have when it happens close to home it’s extremely scary. It hits you in the gut when it hits you in the home,” Hartley said.

Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about fire safety and teach them how and when to call 911.

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