Fears of electricity


Old 03-29-04, 09:24 PM
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Fears of electricity

Just wanted to know how many have felt a jolt of 110- or 220. Is it really that bad? Is it true my wedding ring will conduct more if I get zapped? How do electrical fires actually start using breakers - using fuses?
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Old 03-30-04, 01:40 AM
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I have be shocked many times in my years working around electricity. Make no mistake about it, 120 volts can be quite unpleasant in normal circumstances and can kill under some conditions. Electricity is flowing electrons under pressure (voltage) and the result is power. The flow of power can cause heat and heat can start a fire. A shorting wire can cause a spark which is very hot or the wire can easily get hot enough to melt the insulation and start a fire when combustible materials are nearby. Regarding your wedding ring: I wear one myself and have never felt anything different when shocked. One caution, however. I've heard of people who have gotten their wedding ring between a hot wire and ground which caused a short. There was sufficient current flow to make the ring very hot, very quick. Nasty burns were the result. What was more surprising was that this instance was from a 12v DC electrical system and the guy was working behind the dash board of a car. A situation where 120vac was contacted under simular circumstances probably wouldn't end well.
Old 03-30-04, 05:04 AM
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Hello: Nosoup4you

I can atest to and agree with jughead on the points of electricity made while working on appliances, etc over the many years I spent in the utility business. Being shocked is not part of the job one wants to experience too often. But it does happen to the unsuspecting.

Worse part, unlike most other work place or trade skill dangers, electricity gives no warning of it's impending danger. It is a silent danger waiting to strike.

2 shocks result. One is the electric shock and the other is the taken by surprise shock. Neither are pleasant but only the first one has the ability to injure or kill.

Gas at least provides some warning in some ways. Odor, smell slight noise, often hissing sound but not always. Ignition being the worse. Especially when unexpected gas ignites catching the person totally off guard. Flash burns are painful & can be serious.
Old 03-30-04, 06:31 AM
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In response to the question regarding fires and breakers or fuses; regular breakers do not always prevent fires because they depend on amp draw to kick off. A bad connection can cause enough heat to start a fire yet not draw enough amps to throw the breaker. Several times I have seen situations where a loose connection allowed the insulation to melt or burn off and the breaker did not kick until the ground touched a hot wire causing a direct short. Hopefully the new arc-fault breakers should help this situation. If I am wrong here someone please correct me.
Old 03-30-04, 08:34 AM
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Actually the shock of being shocked has the ability to injure or kill as well. Imagine you are high up on a ladder, contact a live power source, and make a sudden jerky movement in reaction to that contact. You could easily fall from the ladder and be seriously injured or killed.

Last edited by Sharp Advice; 03-30-04 at 06:00 PM.
Old 03-30-04, 01:41 PM
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You are not supposed to fear eletricity, you are supposed to respect it. Do not try to cut corners, do not try to do something just because someone else did it and didn't get fried, do not rush and last but not least make sure you turn the circuit off you are working on.

I have got zapped by 110 a few times and none were anything to brag about. At work we had a problem with a backfeed on the neutral which nicely reminded you of the problem when your hand started to tingle. My boss has 2 or 3 screwdrivers without tips because he has a knack for slipping off things working in breaker boxes.

Hotarc: the same reaction while on the ground can save you too.
Old 03-30-04, 05:43 PM
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Razor called it. Electricity needs respect. I very often get "I don't touch electric, I'm too scared". This is a smart person since they don't know what they are doing and by staying away from it have respect for it. Unfortunately the same type of person may try to save a buck and do things themselves but might not have
the respect to turn off a breaker, or better yet a main breaker.
I have gotten hit by 120v countless times but have never been hung up on it as can happen. Just quick taps which are a PIA! Actually a pain-in-the-hand.
Once I was tagged by 277v. while up in a drop ceiling. Took me totally by surprise. My arm hurt the whole rest of the day.
Old 03-31-04, 01:50 AM
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Don't forget, the biggest danger from getting a shock from 120 volts may not be the shock itself, but the fall it may cause. There are lots of people that get killed or seriously hurt from the SECONDARY results of a unexpected shock. I only got hung up once on a 120 volt circuit where I couldn't let go. I was much younger then (in my 20's) and it didn't seem to cause me any long term damage. Perhaps it would be different today more more than 25 years later.
Old 03-31-04, 04:19 AM
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As a high voltage electrician (even though we consider it "medium" --up to 69,000 volts) we go through a lot of training.
One of the things we learn is the OSHA standard for voltages and current for electric shock. The shock threshhold is primarily determined by current. You have a good potential to be shocked by anything over 50 volts and the critical current for shock is 50 to 100 milliamamps. The current flowing is determined by your body resistance (sweaty hands, standing on wet ground, being barefoot etc. all lowers your body resistance)At that point,which is is fibrillation threshold, heart action is discoordinated and is probably fatal. (Your houshold GFCI's are usually set at 5-6 milliamps). Any time we receive an electric shock, we are required to seek medical attention because even though there may not be any outward signs of problems, your heart could be in fribrillation where it is not pumping properly, it is doing more of a quivering. A quick E.K.G. is one of the diagnostic tools for the doctor. Another problem with eleectricution is burns. Burns received from an electricution may appear minor, but because the burn actually burns from the inside out, in a few days the burn is usually much worse. But the number one hazard for us is something called arc flash. It is the resulting arc from a short circuit (shorted line, screwdriver to ground etc.) The available fault current in equipment and even at the line side of your service panel is HUGE. ( Ususally in the area of 30,000 to 40,000 amps.Factors are the kva of the transformer divided by 1.732 times kilavolts times the imepedence of the transformer-approx .05z)The heat generated by an arc flash is typically 15,000 to 36,000 deg. F. Easily able to vaporize screwdriver tips and send molton copper flying every where. Please, when working in a panel, even when the main is shut off, the line side of the main is still hot, wear proper safety gear! A pair of safety glasses is a must! Make sure they have the ANSI Z87.1 rating on them. Also, make sure you feel comfortable doing the task at hand and if possible, have someone else in the house present. Electricity should not be feared, but respected. The more knowledge you have on theory and practices will strenghten your respect and safe working practices.

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