Electrical Shock

Electrical Shock

An electric shock can occur upon contact of a human body with any source of voltage high enough to cause sufficient current through the muscles or hair.

  • The minimum current a human can feel is thought to be about 1 milliampere (msA).
  • The current may cause tissue damage or fibrillation if it is sufficiently high.
  • Death caused by an electric shock is referred to as electrocution. Generally, currents approaching 100 mA are lethal if they pass through sensitive portions of the body.

An electrical shock is received when electrical current passes through the body.

You will get an electrical shock if a part of your body completes an electrical circuit by:

  • Touching a live wire and an electrical ground, or
  • Touching a live wire and another wire at a different voltage.
  • Touching a live wire without touching electrical ground or another wire of different voltage will not let the current pass through the body.

That is why a bird sitting on a high voltage wire does not get electrocuted.

Electrical Injuries

There are four main types of electrical injuries:

  • Direct
    • Electrocution or death due to electrical shock
    • Electrical shock
    • Burns
  • Indirect
    • Fall

Shock Severity

Severity of the shock depends on:

  • Path of current through the body
  • Amount of current flowing through the body (amps)
  • Duration of the shocking current through the body.

Dangers of Electrical Shock

  • Currents above 10 mA can paralyze or “freeze” muscles.
  • Currents more than 75 mA can cause a rapid, ineffective heartbeat — death will occur in a few minutes unless a defibrillator is used.

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