Electric Shock Hazards: Amperage vs. Voltage

There are many risks that you should be aware of when it comes to electricity. An accidental shock can sometimes just cause a person to be disoriented or worse for wear.

However, some electrical shocks can lead to damage to internal organs, as well as third-degree burns and even death in some cases. It should also be noted that most people think of voltage when they think of electricity.

In truth, the amperage is the element of an electrical shock that you should be more fearful of. Here, we will discuss electric shock hazards and the differences between amperage and voltage.

Amperage vs. Voltage: What’s the Difference?

An electrical current consists of a steady flow of electrons. It is measured by both amperage and voltage. The pressure that allows electrons to flow is actually measured by voltage. Conversely, the actual volume of electrons is measured via amperage.

As such, when a human being is exposed to an electrical shock there is no real difference between receiving a 100 volts and receiving a 1,000 volts. However, even seemingly minor changes to the amperage mean the difference between life and death.

Ergo, it is amperage and not the voltage that should be the focus, contrary to popular belief.

How Amperage Effects Electrical Shock

A range of 1-5 mA range will yield a shock that can be best described as mild or small. It may cause you to back up rapidly, but it won’t cause any pain. Perhaps a bit of distress or anxiety, but nothing that needs to be seen by a doctor.

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When the amperage is increased to the 6-30 mA range the shock that is generated will be quite painful. In fact, muscular control will be lost, similar to the experience that someone who is tasered will feel.

Increasing the amperage to the 50-150 mA range is very dangerous. The muscular reactions can be quite severe. The victim may go into respiratory arrest.

In fact, people with pre-existing health conditions may even die from a shock that ranges from 50-150 mA. When we go up to the 1,000-4,300 mA range the heart will actually stop pumping. Damage to the nerves will ensue, and the likelihood of death is quite elevated.

Once we breach the 10,000 mA-or 10 amp-mark, severe burns, cardiac arrest, and death are all but assured.

As can be seen, even a one or two-amp increase can be the difference between life and death, whereas even a thousand-volt difference may be inconsequential as far as the safety of a human being is concerned.

How to Stay Safe When Doing Electrical Work

Many deaths can easily be prevented by following a few simple safety guidelines. For example, failing to unplug a lamp before changing a lightbulb can lead to death.

If you wish to perform electrical work on your own then you need to turn off the power first.

You may accidentally come into contact with the energized component of the socket, causing an electrical shock that can kill you instantly. If you need to work with power bars or extension cords then ensure that they are not frayed or damaged in any way.

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Placing a warning label will also remind you to be alert while working. If any of your equipment has been damaged then replace them with new equipment and throw out the old equipment as soon as possible.

Damaged equipment can not only cause electrical shocks but may also start house fires while you are away at work or sleeping. You should also test for power, and ensure that both you and the workspace are dry.

There may also come a time when you will need to work at great heights that you will not be able to reach on your own. If you need to use a ladder in order to reach elevated heights then always use ladders that are properly insulated.

The general rule of thumb is to use a licensed electrician in order to tackle any electrical work in a home.

By doing so, you will ensure that the work is done correctly the first time. You will also avoid the risk of possibly injuring yourself while working on your home. Simply call an electrician service company in your area and they should be able to inspect your home within a few hours.

Below, are more tips that we believe will protect you, your loved ones, and your home from any electrical, fire, or water-based damage.

You should use tape in order to affix your extension cords to your floors or walls. Do not use staples or nails, as they may cause punctures that can lead to shocks and fires in the future.

The equipment and extension cords that you use should also be rated for the wattage or amperage level that you are utilizing in order to play it safe. In addition, if you need to replace a fuse then make sure that you use the correct size.

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If you replace a fuse with a fuse that is too large then excessive current may be generated through the wiring, triggering a dangerous fire. Cords and outlets should also not be very hot to the touch.

Outlets and cords that are very hot or warm should be replaced as soon as possible. Unplug the cords from your outlets and call a licensed and bonded electrician in your area in order to safely inspect the area.

Better Safe…

Electrical threats are ever-present, even when workers are using personal protective equipment, so all safety precautions need to always be followed to the letter. In other words, it is better to err on the side of caution and not take any risks.

Every year, thousands of innocent lives are lost due to negligence and not using the proper tools and safety equipment when working on wiring and electrical fixtures. Being prudent will save lives.