Jen Juneau
February 22, 2016 4:09 pm

We’ve all heard rumors about some of the potential dangers of cell-phone use. Such as that they might not be safe to use at a gas pump. Or that they can cause cancer after prolonged exposure. Most of these rumors are just that – rumors, which haven’t had a chance to be studied by scientists for long-term validity – but sometimes, a cell-phone-related event happens that makes us all go, “Errrr…WHAT!?”

Like your cell phone catching on fire if you cover it with a pillow – which is an actual thing that can happen, as evidenced by these photos the NYPD 33rd Precinct tweeted last week.

The tweet didn’t specify whose bedding the photos were from or anything about their related incidents, but as out-of-the-ordinary as they seem to be on first glance, they’re not unfounded. Last year, a 15-year-old Hamden, Connecticut boy’s bed caught on fire after he left his phone on the bed while it charged. And two years ago, an incident just like the one in the tweeted photos happened to 13-year-old Ariel Tolfree from North Texas, who left her Samsung Galaxy S4 under her pillow overnight and woke up to the unmistakable smell of something burning.

“The whole phone melted,” Ariel’s dad, Thomas Tolfree, told FOX News at the time. “The plastic, the glass. You can’t even really tell that it was a phone.”

“Scary” doesn’t even cover it. So we know that our cell phones could catch fire if we put them anywhere near our beds, but what in the world could be causing this?

Well, for starters, Samsung’s user guide has a warning that states restricting airflow to their devices – and yes, that includes restricting said airflow with cushy objects like pillows – could cause a fire. That makes sense; less oxygen equals overheating, which can easily lead to a fire.

As far as a charging phone goes, Hamden Fire Department points out that frayed power cords and damaged chargers could also be the culprit of these types of electrical fires from time to time, and that on top of checking power sources for damage and making sure electronic devices are ventilated, it’s extremely important to unplug chargers when they’re not in use.

“It is recommended that you leave these type of devices on a hard surface so the heat can dissipate,” Hamden Fire Chief David Berardesca told NBC Connecticut. “The batteries heat up, they could melt – in some cases, explode – and cause a fire.”

PC Magazine also has a great article about some other actions to take to make sure your phone doesn’t have a fire-roasted conniption fit – namely, making sure you don’t try to dissect it violently, that you re-charge in mild temperatures, and that you buy high-quality batteries.

Bottom line, though? Make sure your cell phone is getting proper oxygen flow at all times. Plop it on your nightstand overnight while it charges, and leave the under-the-pillow area reserved for your magazine cutouts of Ryan Gosling. Now, if those combust spontaneously, we don’t know what to say except that no matter what caused it, your secret is safe with us.

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