WAZIPOINT Engineering Science & Technology: The Fact About Electrical Shock and Physiological Effects

Monday, December 11, 2023

The Fact About Electrical Shock and Physiological Effects

An electrical shock occurs when an individual comes into contact with an electrical energy source. When electricity passes through the body, it can disrupt the normal functioning of the nervous system and cause a range of effects, from mild tingling sensations to severe injury or even death. The severity of an electrical shock depends on various factors such as the amount of current, the pathway it takes through the body, the duration of exposure, and the voltage.

Even low levels of electrical current passing through the body can cause muscle contractions, burns, and pain. Higher levels of current can lead to more severe injuries, including damage to internal organs, cardiac arrest, and severe burns. It's crucial to take precautions around electricity and use safety measures such as insulating materials, proper grounding, and safety protocols to prevent electrical shocks.
The Current Limit That Can Kill You
The Current Limit and Physiological Effects of Electric Shock 

The Fact of Fatal Current in Electrical Shock:

The real fact about fatal currents is that most fatal electric shocks happen to people who know better but ignore or are careless for a moment.

From the above fatal current chart we can observe that while any amount of current over 10 milli-amps (0.01 amp) is capable of producing painful to severe shock, currents between 100 and 200 mA (0.1 to 0.2 amp) are lethal death.

Currents above 200 milli-amps (0.2 amp), while producing severe burns and unconsciousness. 

For currents above 10 mA, muscular contractions are so strong that the victim cannot let go of the wire that is shocking him. At values as low as 20 mA, breathing becomes labored, finally ceasing completely even at values below 75 mA.

As the current approaches 100 mA, ventricular fibrillation of the heart occurs - an uncoordinated twitching of the walls of the heart's ventricles which results in death.

The current limit and Physiological effects of the electric shock chart in above show details of the physiological effects of various currents from the range 0.001 ampere to 1 ampere. 

Note herewith that voltage is not a consideration. Although it takes voltage to make current flow, the amount of shock-current will vary, depending on the body resistance between the points of contact.

Here are some key points about electrical shock and its physiological effects:

  • Muscle contractions: Even a low-voltage shock can cause muscles to contract involuntarily. This can make it difficult or impossible for a person to release themselves from the electrical source, leading to prolonged exposure.
  • Burns: Electric current passing through the body can cause burns both at the point of entry and exit, as well as along the path it takes through tissues. These burns can be severe, especially with high-voltage shocks.
  • Cardiac effects: Electricity can interfere with the normal electrical signals in the heart, leading to arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) or even cardiac arrest. High-voltage shocks pose a greater risk of causing fatal arrhythmias.
  • Neurological damage: Severe electrical shocks can cause damage to the nervous system, leading to neurological issues, paralysis, or sensory deficits.
  • Internal injuries: Electricity can damage internal organs, particularly if the current passes through the chest or abdominal area. This can result in internal bleeding or organ damage.
  • Respiratory issues: Electrical shocks can cause respiratory paralysis or difficulty breathing, especially if the current affects the muscles involved in breathing.

Who is responsible for killing us voltage or Current?

Neither voltage nor current "kill" on their own. The danger to humans comes from the amount of current passing through the body, not just the voltage itself.

Voltage is the force that pushes the electric current through a conductor (like a wire). Current is the flow of electric charge. When a person comes into contact with an electrical source, the amount of current passing through the body and the path it takes can cause harm, potentially leading to injury or even death in severe cases. The severity of the shock depends on various factors such as the amount of current, the duration of exposure, and the pathway the current takes through the body.

In simple terms, while both voltage and current are involved in electric shocks, it's the amount of current passing through the body that poses the greater risk. Even a low voltage can be dangerous if it can deliver enough current to disrupt the body's normal functions, particularly the heart's rhythm.
What is the human body resistance?

From a physicist's point of view, both voltage and current are responsible for killing us during an electrical shock. It's a combination of certain levels of voltage and current to kill us in an electrical shock,

The voltage itself is not enough to kill. The fact is that there are sources of very high voltage that don't provide very much current at all as would be the case with static electricity. 

Human body itself having some resistance to protect the current flow through into it. So, a certain voltage needs to overcome the resistance of our body, and then it needs a certain level of current to actually damage body cells.

Doing fatal damage to the human body does not necessarily a large amount of voltage and currents, a small amount but a pretty long period may cause fatal damage even death. A current of a few milli-amps across the heart will be enough to kill. 

A voltage of about 100V or something like that is potentially enough to flow a few milli-amps current across the human heart that may cause fatal damage and death.

The electrical socket used in our household carries voltage and current enough to dangerous shock. We should be careful to use any electrical appliances to avoid any kind of electrical hazards and fatal shock.

What to Do If Electrical Shock is Happened Anyone?

If you've experienced one or are in a situation where electrical shock is a concern, your safety is the top priority. If someone has been shocked:

  1. Ensure Safety: Make sure the area is safe to approach. If it's still a high-risk electrical area, don't touch the person until the power is off.
  2. Call for Help: If the person is unconscious or injured, call emergency services immediately.
  3. Don't Touch Them Directly: If the power is still on, avoid touching the person directly, as you could get shocked too. Use a non-conductive item like a wooden stick or dry cloth to move the wire or separate the person from the electrical source if it's safe to do so.
  4. Check for Breathing: If the person isn't breathing or their heartbeat is absent, start CPR if you're trained to do so.
  5. Cover Wounds: If there are burns or injuries, cover them with a sterile dressing or clean cloth.
  6. Stay Safe: Always prioritize your safety and avoid putting yourself in danger when dealing with electrical shocks.
Remember, it's crucial to seek medical attention after any electrical shock, even if the person seems fine. Sometimes, the effects can be delayed or there might be internal injuries.


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