The heatwave hack that could prove DEADLY: TikTokers are urged not to attach bags of ice to their fans to stay cool as they risk giving themselves severe electric shocks
- Safety experts warn against a dangerous new trend that’s circulating on TikTok
- Users are tying bags to the back of fans to create ‘homemade air conditioning’
- But users who try the supposed ‘hack’ risk giving themselves an electric shock
With temperatures in parts of the UK hitting a record-breaking 40.3C yesterday, many desperate Brits are going to extreme lengths to keep cool.
But experts have warned against a dangerous trend circulating on TikTok of attaching ice to the backs of fans to fight the heatwave.
TikTok videos show users tying bags of ice to their electric fans to create ‘homemade air conditioning’, in the hope of blowing colder air around their homes.
But users who try the supposed ‘hack’ risk giving themselves an electric shock, according to the consumer safety charity Electrical Safety First (ESF).
Having ice anywhere near any electric device risks water coming into contact with the motor, increasing the risk of electrocution.
What’s more, the excessive weight of the bag attached to the top of the fan will risk it falling over and damaging or obstructing the rotation of the blades.
WHY IS WATER DANGEROUS AROUND ELECTRICAL ITEMS?
Water is notoriously an excellent conductor of electricity and so can deliver a potentially fatal electric shock upon contact.
It’s actually the impurities in the water such as minerals and dust which 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 pure water anywhere outside of a lab, so don’t mix electricity and water.
Source: USGS/WINNS Services
ESF’s warning comes after Brits had to endure the hottest day in recorded history on Tuesday, with temperatures pushing past 104°F (40°C).
Met Office registered a provisional reading of 40.3°C (104.5°F) at Coningsby in Lincolnshire at 3pm on Tuesday – a record high.
‘Videos on TikTok are encouraging sweltering Brits to practice unsafe hacks with their electric fans,’ said Giuseppe Capanna, product safety engineer at Electrical Safety First.
‘Tying a bag of ice to a fan is very risky as it could destabilize the fan which may make it fall over, causing the blades to hit the guard and put the motor under additional strain, as well as potentially breaking your fan altogether.
‘However, most importantly, the water that melts from the bag has a chance of coming into contact with the motor and causing an electric shock risk to anyone touching the fan.’
Putting a bucket of ice in front of an electrical fan is already a tried and tested method of keeping cool.
But the important thing is keeping it as far from the fan as possible – and not letting the two make contact.
ESF has also listed the dos and don’ts when it comes to using a fan safely – one of which is not keeping it on overnight.
Unfortunately, hundreds, if not thousands of Brits will have had their fan on overnight to help get them through sticky and uncomfortable heat.
Trying to stay cool: Water from melted ice can potentially conduct electricity from the fan and could give users a fatal electric shock
This video shows a bucket of ice a few feet away from the fan. Generally the further away the ice is from the fan the better – but any contact between the two poses a huge safety risk
Keeping the fan running during the night leaves people at risk if a fault occurs in the device while the owner is asleep, ESF says.
The charity therefore advises owners to always turn their fan off before they go to sleep and ensure their home has working smoke alarms in case of a fault.
ESF also stresses the importance of purchasing a fan from a reputable retailer, especially when buying online.
Purchasing fans from third-party sellers online can leave us vulnerable to ‘substandard and potentially dangerous’ counterfeits, risking electric shock and fire.
In the absence of a fan, other methods of keeping cool include wearing socks that have been in the fridge, not drinking alcohol, and, rather more oddly, breathing with your tongue rolled.
Unplugging electronic devices can also reduce heat generation around the home, while keeping curtains closed all through the day to keep rooms in the shade.
One Australian woman shared a ‘hack’ of sticking foil against the windows, acting as a super-efficient reflector of sunlight.
DOs AND DON’Ts OF USING A FAN IN A HEATWAVE
DON’T leave your fan on overnight
It’s tempting to keep cool air circulating as the nighttime temperature stays high but this leaves you at risk if a fault occurs within your device while you’re sleeping. Always turn your fan off before you go to sleep and ensure you have working smoke alarms in your property.
DO Purchase your fan from a reputable retailer you know and trust: Purchasing electric fans from third-party sellers you have never heard of on online marketplaces could leave you vulnerable to substandard and potentially dangerous counterfeits which may risk electric shock and fire.
DON’T Balance your fan on the edge of a surface: Always place your fan on a flat stable surface. If your fan is balanced on the edge of a surface, or has items attached to it, such as a bag of ice, it could tip over. This would cause the blades to hit the guard and put the motor under additional strain, as well as potentially breaking your fan altogether.
DO clear your fan of dust build-up: Be sure to look at the vents or the motor for a build-up of dust as there are two risks:
1. The motor may be placed under additional strain from the dust and grime
2. The dust could become a source of ignition if the motor were to overheat.
Always clean your vents to ensure your fan works efficiency and is kept in good use. Make sure to unplug your fan and to follow manufacturer’s instructions before opening the guard or attempting to clean the fan.
DON’T ignore a buzzing sound: If your fan is giving off a light buzzing sound it may be a sign of an electrical fault or ‘arcing’ occurring at the plug. Always ensure your fan is plugged in securely if you notice any smell of burning or unusual noises, turn it off immediately.
DO check your fan for wear and tear: We often keep fans for years, storing them away in the cooler months where damage may occur to cables. Always check your device to ensure the cables are in good condition and that the vents are free from the build-up of dust, which can hinder the product’s performance.