How Electricity Can Hurt You Electrical Safety-SMART! Home

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Just a little current can kill

The chart shows the effect of shocks at increasing current levels in milliamps. At 1 you can just feel it. At 5 to 10 you can't let go. At 20 to 50 it is possibly fatal, and at 60 and above it is probably fatal.

A milliamp is 1/1000th of an ampere, a measure of electrical current.

  • 1 milliamp is the trip setting for a GFCI shock protection. A GFCI is a ground fault circuit interrupter, a device that protects against serious shock.
  • 60 milliamps is a 7.5-watt Christmas Tree light
  • 90 milliamps is a 12-watt electric shaver
  • 800 milliamps is a 100-watt light bulb
  • 8000 millamps is 1000-watt hair dryer


The Truth About Shock

You can never tell when contact with electricity will be fatal, but you can be sure it will always hurt. Electric shock can cause muscle spasms, weakness, shallow breathing, rapid pulse, severe burns, unconsciousness, or death.

In a shock incident, the path that electric current takes through the body gets very hot. Burns occur all along that path, including the places on the skin where the current enters and leaves the body. It's not only giant power lines that can kill or injure you if you contact them. You can also be killed by a shock from an appliance or power cord in your home.