Soaring summer temperatures can bring more dangers than sunburn and heatstroke. In Zhuzhou City, Hunan Province, TVs, computers and fans simultaneously caught on fire in 50 apartments when the voltage of the electrical supply suddenly surged above the standard level.
It was a long, hot day with temperatures at the time around 35.6 degrees celsius. Tenant A was sitting in front of his TV eating watermelon at around 3.30 in the afternoon when all of a sudden there was a loud bang and the TV set exploded in front of his very eyes, sending thick smoke spewing out of it.
Tenant B was in another room was taking an afternoon nap with her granddaughter. Since it was a hot day they had the fan on. Suddenly there was a loud bang from the fan and it started smoking. Thinking there had been an explosion, she grabbed her granddaughter and ran out of the place barefoot. She’d also left the TV and computer on, and when she got back neither of them were working.
Tenant C was in the shower when suddenly the water turned cold, but since he was just finishing up anyway he didn’t worry too much about it. Afterwards he went into the living room where his wife was watching their new TV, but it had stopped working. While wife started chewing him out for buying a TV that broke after only a few days’ use, their son came running in from another room to tell them his computer had suddenly stopped working, too. Clearly, something was amiss in the building.
In total at least 50 tenants’ electronic appliances had caught fire or stopped working. Fortunately no one was hurt in the incident, but there were plenty of casualties in the form of dead computers, televisions, and fans.
According to the electricity provider, the power lines to the apartment block were very old, meaning they were particularly susceptible to problems due to the high power usage during the hot summer temperatures. Additionally, there was a tree branch jutting out near the cables and the wind had been repeatedly blowing it against them, resulting in two of the cables shorting out and meaning that a high-tension current of 380 volts had been sent down the household cable. Residents were warned to turn off their electronic appliances when going out of the house whenever possible.
It’s possible for compressors in refrigerators and air-conditioners to catch fire and TV screens to be damaged due to fluctuations in voltage. As well as encouraging households to think about ways to lower their amount of electricity consumption, the electricity provider has suggested that it might be a good idea to invest in a voltage stabilizer.
In other words, there wasn’t anything the company could do other than offer advice for preventing similar problems from occurring in the future. As there are many areas of China still using old electrical facilities, in the summer when power usage soars with the increased use of fans and air-con they become susceptible to accidents such as this. Hopefully, these tenants were reimbursed by the power company or were able to claim on insurance, as enduring Hunan’s summer temperatures without modern-day appliances could be tough.