Heat wave hack that could be DEATH: TikTokers urged not to attach ice bags to their fans to stay cool as they risk severe electric shocks.
- Security experts warn of a dangerous new trend that is spreading to TikTok
- Users tie bags to fans to create a “homemade air conditioner”.
- But users attempting to pull off the alleged “hack” risk getting electrocuted.
With temperatures reaching record highs of 40.3°C in parts of the UK yesterday, many desperate Britons are going to great lengths to keep cool.
But experts warn against a dangerous trend circulating on the tik tak attaching ice to the back of the fans to combat the heat wave.
A TikTok video shows users tying ice bags to their electric fans to create a “homemade air conditioner” in hopes of blowing colder air around their homes.
But users attempting to pull off the alleged “hack” risk getting electrocuted, according to the consumer advocacy charity Electrical Safety First (ESF).
The presence of ice near any electrical device can cause water to enter the motor, increasing the risk of electric shock.
Moreover, excessive weight of the bag attached to the top of the fan can cause it to fall and damage or block the rotation of the blades.
WHY IS WATER DANGEROUS AROUND ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT?
Water is known to be an excellent conductor of electricity and therefore, contact with it can result in a potentially fatal electric shock.
They are actually impurities in the water, such as minerals and dust, that conduct electricity.
Therefore, pure water (free of all salts, minerals and impurities) is not a good conductor of electricity.
But you’re unlikely to find clean water anywhere outside of a lab, so don’t mix electricity and water.
Source: USGS/WINNS Services.
The ESF warning came after the British had to endure the hottest day on record on Tuesday, with temperatures exceeding 104°F (40°C).
The Met Office recorded preliminary readings of 40.3°C (104.5°F) at Coningsby in Lincolnshire on Tuesday at 3pm – a record high.
“A video on TikTok encourages exhausted Britons to practice unsafe ways to hack into their electric fans,” said Giuseppe Capanna, product safety engineer at Electrical Safety First.
“Tethering an ice bag to a fan is very risky, as it can destabilize the fan, which can cause it to fall, causing the blades to hit the guard and put extra stress on the motor, and could also break your fan completely.
“Most importantly, however, the water that melts from the bag can come into contact with the motor and cause an electrical shock risk to anyone who touches the fan.”
Putting an ice bucket in front of an electric fan is a tried and tested way to cool down.
But it is important to keep it as far away from the fan as possible and not let them touch.
ESF also listed the do’s and don’ts when it comes to safe fan use, one of which is not leaving it on overnight.
Unfortunately, hundreds, if not thousands, of Britons have turned on the fan overnight to endure the sticky and uncomfortable heat.
Trying to keep cool: Water from melted ice can potentially conduct electricity from a fan and can result in a fatal electric shock.
This video shows a bucket of ice a few feet from a fan. As a general rule, the farther the ice is from the fan, the better, but any contact between the two poses a huge safety risk.
Running the fan at night puts people at risk if the device fails while the owner is asleep, ESF said.
So the charity is advising owners to always turn off the fan before bed and make sure their home has a working smoke alarm in case of a malfunction.
ESF also highlights the importance of buying a fan from a trusted retailer, especially when buying online.
Purchasing fans from third party sellers online can leave us vulnerable to “poor quality and potentially dangerous” counterfeits, which can lead to electric shock and fire.
In the absence of a fan, etc. methods of keeping cool include wearing socks that have been in the fridge, avoiding alcohol, and, more bizarrely, rolling your tongue.
Turning off electronic devices can also reduce the amount of heat generated in a home, keeping the curtains closed throughout the day to keep rooms in the shade.
One Australian shared the “trick” of sticking foil to windows, which acts as a super-efficient sunlight reflector.
DO NOT USE THE FAN DURING THE HEAT
NOT leave the fan on overnight
It’s tempting to keep cool air circulating as night temperatures stay high, but it puts you at risk if your device crashes while you sleep. Always turn off the fan before bed and make sure your home has a working fire alarm.
DO Purchase a fan from a reputable seller you know and trust: Buying electric fans from third party sellers that you have never heard of in online marketplaces can leave you vulnerable to low quality and potentially dangerous imitations that can lead to electric shock and fire.
NOT balance the fan on the edge of the surface: always place the fan on a flat, stable surface. If your fan is balanced on the edge of a surface or objects such as an ice pack are attached to it, it may tip over. This can cause the blades to hit the guard and put extra stress on the motor, and could also completely break your fan.
DO clean the fan from accumulated dust: be sure to check the vents or the motor for dust accumulation, as there are two risks:
1. The engine may be subjected to additional stress due to dust and dirt.
2. Dust can become a source of ignition if the engine overheats.
Always clean the vents to keep your fan running efficiently and in good condition. Before opening the protective cover or attempting to clean the fan, be sure to unplug the fan and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
NOT ignore whirring sound: If your fan makes a slight whirring sound, this may be an indication of an electrical problem or an “arc” in the plug. Always check the reliability of the fan connection, if you notice a burning smell or unusual sounds, turn it off immediately.
DO check your fan for wear: We often store fans for years, putting them away during the cooler months when cables can break. Always check your device to make sure that the cables are in good condition and that dust has not accumulated in the ventilation holes, which can reduce the performance of the device.