Trying to stay cool: water from melted ice can potentially conduct electricity from the fan and could give users a fatal electric shock

TikTok users are urged not to attach ice packs to their fans

Heatwave hack that could prove DEADLY: TikTokers urged not to attach ice packs to their fans to stay cool as they risk giving themselves serious electric shocks

  • Security experts warn of a dangerous new trend circulating on TikTok
  • Users attach bags to the back of fans to create ‘home air conditioning’
  • But users who try the supposed “hack” risk electrical shock

As temperatures in parts of the UK hit a record high of 40.3C yesterday, many desperate Britons are doing all they can to stay cool.

But experts have warned of a dangerous trend circulating on TikTok of strapping ice on fans’ backs to combat the heatwave.

TikTok videos show users attaching bags of ice to their electric fans to create “home air conditioning”, hoping to blow cooler air around their homes.

But users who try the supposed “hack” risk giving themselves an electric shock, according to consumer safety charity Electrical Safety First (ESF).

Having ice near any electrical appliance risks water coming into contact with the motor, increasing the risk of electric shock.

In addition, the excessive weight of the bag attached to the top of the fan may tip it over and damage or impede the rotation of the blades.

WHY IS WATER DANGEROUS AROUND ELECTRICAL ITEMS?

Water is notoriously an excellent conductor of electricity and can therefore cause a life-threatening electrical shock on contact.

It is actually impurities in 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 pure water outside of a lab, so don’t mix electricity and water.

Source: USGS/WINNS Services

The ESF warning comes after Britons endured the hottest day in recorded history on Tuesday, with temperatures exceeding 104°F (40°C).

The Met Office recorded a provisional reading of 40.3C (104.5F) in Coningsby in Lincolnshire at 3pm on Tuesday – a record high.

“Videos on TikTok are encouraging stuffy Brits to do dangerous hacks with their electric fans,” said Giuseppe Capanna, product safety engineer at Electrical Safety First.

“Attaching an ice pack to a fan is very risky as it could destabilize the fan which could cause it to fall over causing the blades to hit the guard and put the motor under additional stress and the possibility of it breaking. your fan completely.

“However, more importantly, the water that melts from the bag has a chance of coming into contact with the motor and causing an electrocution hazard to anyone touching the fan.”

Placing a bucket of ice in front of an electric fan is already a tried and true method of cooling down.

But the important thing is to keep it as far away from the fan as possible – and not let the two come into contact.

“Consumers should always be wary of water coming into contact with electricity,” Capanna said.

The ESF has also listed the do’s and don’ts of using a fan safely, one of which is not keeping it on overnight.

Sadly, hundreds if not thousands of Britons will have turned on their fans overnight to help them through the sticky, 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 meters from the fan.  Generally, the further the ice is from the fan, the better - but any contact between the two poses a huge safety risk.

This video shows a bucket of ice a few meters from the fan. Generally, the further the ice is from the fan, the better – but any contact between the two poses a huge safety risk.

Keeping the fan running overnight puts people at risk if a failure occurs in the device while the owner is sleeping, says the ESF.

The charity therefore advises homeowners to always turn off their fans before going to sleep and to ensure their home has working smoke detectors in case of a breakdown.

The ESF also stresses the importance of buying a ventilator from a reputable retailer, especially when buying online.

Purchasing fans from third-party sellers online may make us vulnerable to “substandard and potentially dangerous” counterfeits that may cause electric shocks and fires.

In the absence of a ventilator, other methods of keeping cool include wearing socks that have been in the refrigerator, not drinking alcohol, and, more bizarrely, breathing with your tongue rolled up.

Unplugging electronics can also reduce heat generation around the house, while keeping curtains closed all day to keep rooms shaded.

An Australian woman has shared a ‘hack’ of sticking tin foil against windows, acting as a super efficient reflector of sunlight.

DO’S AND DON’TS OF USING A FAN DURING A HEAT WAVE

DON’T leave your fan on all night

It’s tempting to circulate some cool air as the nighttime temperature remains high, but doing so puts you at risk if a failure occurs in your device while you sleep. Always turn off your fan before going to sleep and make sure you have working smoke alarms on your property.

DO Buy your fan from a reputable retailer you know and trust: Buying electric fans from third-party sellers you’ve never heard of in online marketplaces could leave you vulnerable to quality knockoffs inferior and potentially dangerous which could result in the risk of 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 objects attached to it, such as an ice pack, it could tip over. This will cause the blades to hit the guard and put extra stress on the motor, as well as potentially breaking your fan completely.

DO Rid Your Fan of Dust Buildup: Be sure to look at the vents or motor for dust buildup as there are two risks:

1. Motor can be put under extra pressure from dust and grime

2. Dust could become an ignition source if the motor overheats.

Always clean your vents to ensure your fan is running efficiently and remains in good working order. Be sure to unplug your fan and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before opening the guard or attempting to clean the fan.

DON’T Ignore a hum: If your fan is making a slight hum, it may be a sign of an electrical fault or an “arcing” occurring at the outlet. Always make sure your fan is plugged in. If you notice a burning smell or unusual noises, turn it off immediately.

DO Check the wear and tear on your fan: We often keep fans on for years, storing them in the colder months when cable damage can occur. Always check your device to ensure cables are in good condition and vents are free of dust buildup, which can adversely affect product performance.

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