How Electrical Current Adversely Affects The Human Body
Electrical Shock Electric shock occurs when the body becomes part of an electrical circuit.
Shocks can happen in three ways.
- A person may come in contact with both conductors in a circuit.
- A person may provide a path between an ungrounded conductor and the ground.
- A person may provide a path between the ground and a conducting material that is in contact with an ungrounded conductor.
The terms high voltage and low voltage are relative terms. In transmission-line terminology, “low voltage” is much higher than the 600 volts. At home, you would not think of 600 volts as being low voltage.
Even when applied to 120-volt circuits, the term low voltage is deceiving. To some people, low voltage means low hazard. Actually, low voltage does not necessarily mean low hazard, because the potential difference is only one factor making up the dangerous effects of electricity. For purposes of this Lesson, you can think of “low voltage” as being a potential difference of 24-600 volts.
The extent of injury accompanying electric shock depends on three factors.
- The amount of current conducted through the body.
- The path of the current through the body.
- The length of time a person is subjected to the current.
The amount of the current depends on the potential difference and the resistance. The effects of low current on the human body range from a temporary mild tingling sensation to death. An electric shock can injure you in either or both of the following.
- A severe shock can stop the heart or the breathing muscles, or both.
- The heating effects of the current can cause severe burns, especially at points where the electricity enters and leaves the body.
Other effects include severe bleeding, breathing difficulty, and ventricular fibrillation. In addition, you may strike something, or have some other accident as a result of your response to the shock.