How Safe Is Taking Your Cell Phone to the Tub? Investigation Finds Serious Dangers

Investigative - Inside Edition Staff

It was a disturbing story: Fourteen-year-old Madison Coe electrocuted while using her cell phone in her bath tub in July.

Her family told Inside Edition she regularly used her phone while soaking in the tub.

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“You're not supposed to bury your babies,” her stepmother, Felisha Owens, told Inside Edition. “I went in to tell Maddy that it was time to get out so we could go to bed, so I called her name and she didn't answer.”

They found Madison in the tub. Her stepmom and father, both medical professionals, performed CPR in an attempt to revive her. But it was too late.

So is it ever safe to use your cell phone in the bathtub? To find out, electrical engineer Steve Fowler set up a demonstration with Inside Edition's Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero, to show what exactly happens when you accidentally drop a cell phone in the water.

After dropping a phone into the tub, Fowler used probes to detect electrical current in the water and determined there was none. Fowler said cell phones by themselves are not capable of delivering a powerful enough shock to be harmful.

But when the cell phone is charging on an extension cord, particularly one that's frayed, the results were very different. This is believed to be the situation when Madison Coe was electrocuted.

Fowler dropped a frayed extension cord connected to a phone in the tub and the electrical current was immediately off the charts.

“This person would be dead in the bathtub right now,” Guerrero said.

“That's right, this person would be dead,” Fowler said.

“It is never safe to have an electrical extension cord near the bathtub. Ever," Fowler added.

The same thing happened when they dropped other common bathroom items into the bathtub, like a curling iron and hair straightener.

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Fowler offered this critical warning: “Anything plugged into a wall should not be near the bathtub.”

That's a message Madison’s family would like to echo. “We're all so attached to our cell phones and electronic devices and games," her father Logan Coe said. "Our beautiful angel is gone."

Watch: Father of Teen Who Died After Taking Cell Phone into Bathtub: 'My World Just Came to a Stop'