[logo] Electrical Safety

[warning]Electrical Safety

This is presented as a public service. Please inform me if you find any errors...
(Apologies -- source of some information lost years ago!)

[Ouch!] CURRENT KILLS (not voltage)

Current effects on human body, current through chest
(A, amps)
<0.01  tingling or imperceptible
0.02  painful, cannot let go
0.03  breathing disturbed
0.07  breathing very difficult
0.10  death due to fibrillation
>0.20  no fibrillation, but severe burning, no breathing
Also please see Electrical Hazards from the MIT Safety Office

Effects of different current levels through human body

Fibrillation and resuscitation

[heart signal]
  • Fibrillation is the fine, rapid, erratic, movements that replace the normal contraction of the vetricular muscle of the heart
  • Fibrillation can be stopped by application of another controlled electrical shock, known as defibrillation, often seen in movies and on TV...
  • A stopped heart can often be resuscitated with CPR techniques (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), but seldom a fibrillating heart.

Dielectric breakdown and sparking

[High Voltage]
graphic from City of Austin Electric Utility


Electrical Safety from the MIT Safety Office
Using Electricity Safely from Ohio Edison
Safety Search (for children) from Union Electric

Comments, suggestions, or requests to ghw@udel.edu.

Last updated Dec. 2, 1997.
Copyright George Watson, Univ. of Delaware, 1996.