Not that long ago, people started to worry about bringing technology on planes because of the explosion that happened on a Southwest Airlines plane, and explosion caused by a phone. It caused the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ban those devices because they smartphones “are likely to create sparks or generate a dangerous amount of heat, which could cause smoke or a fire aboard an aircraft,” an FAA spokesperson told U.S. News at the time. The Department of Transportation went even further, banning both that device and the replacement. They did the same with the hoverboards that caught on fire, and any other device powered by lithium-ion batteries, including tablets.
There are other problems with taking your tech onto planes as well. Cell phones run the risk of interfering with communication devices, causing there to be confusion between air traffic control and pilots. Newer airplanes shouldn’t have that problem, but it isn’t something most airlines are willing to mess around with for the most part.
The Safety Risk of Electronics on Planes
Most devices will be safe to use on planes, but the problems are always there. You never know who has modified their phones, putting in low-quality parts that are more likely to blow up or catch on fire. Batteries seem to be the most common culprit of problems – and they are the parts of the phone most likely to be replaced. There is also a problem with the liquid inside of a phone’s battery. While it is unlikely, if your phone gets crushed and leaks this fluid, a fire is possible. Portable charges pose a similar threat.
When you think about it, almost everyone who has a smartphone is going to take it on a flight. The best thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to unplug it from any outlet and charger, turn it off, and even allow it to die before going on your flight. Try not to overload it or use it too much if you cannot turn it off.
Fires Can be Contained
Fires from electronic use still pose a problem. While you don’t have to be afraid to fly, you should be cautious about what devices you use. If something doesn’t look right to you, or doesn’t feel right, always contact a professional on the flight. There are special fire-proof bags that can be used to store devices that are too hot or seem to be acting strangely.
Since the FAA was made aware of the problem, they’ve taken many steps to contain a fire if it does happen. There are more fire extinguishers than ever and better burn-control kits. The bags don’t contain the fire, instead they prevent it from getting too big.
You Should Use Airplane Mode
Most people only use airplane mode when they want to keep their phones from dying or when they need to charge their phones quickly. However, switching your phone to airplane while on an airplane is a good idea to keep everyone safe. Make sure to turn everything you have onto airplane mode until you are given the go ahead to keep using it. This will also give you time to listen to what your flight attendant is saying – which could save your life.
Use Common Sense
At the end of the day, the less technology you bring onto a plane, the better you are going to be. Whether it is e-cigarettes, laptops, your phone, a portable charger, or even your Fitbit, they all have a tendency to overheat. If you do bring things with you, make sure that you keep your attention on them and focus on keeping them cool and safe. Use proper cases so that they don’t get crushed and leak out fluid, turn them completely off if you can, and never plug them in during travel.
If you do need to charge a device, try to always use an outlet. The USB charger tends to be touchier than the outlet. Make sure to watch the outlet as you plug and unplug your device – if you see sparks, make sure you tell a flight attendant. Make sure to always talk to the professionals on board as well, they will be able to walk you through anything if you stay calm – hiding it will make everything worse.