Humans haven’t evolved to cope with electrical current passing through their bodies. It can cause anything from a mild shock to cardiac arrest and even death. While it is important to be aware of the dangers of electric shock, it is equally as important to understand how it works and what can be done to prevent it.
The Biggest Misconception
One of the biggest misconceptions about electricity is that it is “hot”, implying it can burn or otherwise harm the body. The truth is that current, not voltage, is responsible for the pain and damage caused by an electric shock. The amount of current that passes through the body is proportional to the voltage, with higher voltages producing larger amounts of current and therefore more damage.
A current that flows through a conductor is limited by the amount of resistance it encounters. This resistance can come from a number of sources including the outer skin of the body and internal tissues. The outer skin acts like a dielectric, and this reduces the current that can pass through the body. In addition, the speed at which the voltage changes can also determine how much current passes through a given point on the body.
AC is Safer
Both AC and DC electricity can travel over long distances, but AC is safer for transferring over cities because it doesn’t lose as much energy. Both can also be used in electronic devices, but most require a rectifier to convert the AC to DC power.
AC is More Dangerous
Alternating current is more dangerous than DC because it can cause the heart to go into ventricular fibrillation. The heart’s natural pacemakers are sensitive to alternating current, and this can trigger an irregular heartbeat which can lead to a life-threatening heart condition. DC current doesn’t have this effect on the heart, and it can therefore be less dangerous for people to work with.
However, it is important to remember that both AC and DC currents can be equally dangerous. The key is to always follow safety protocols when working with any type of electrical current, and to never touch a live wire.
A final note on the difference between AC and DC current: a person’s threshold for feeling an electric shock is different depending on the frequency of the electricity. Generally speaking, AC currents of 50 to 60 Hz are more dangerous than DC, but it can vary from person to person. The higher the frequency, the greater the risk of cardiac arrest or sudden death. This is because the alternating current causes the heart to go into ventricular fibrillation, and it may take more time for the body to recover from this. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid using household appliances that use AC electricity. Ideally, the devices should be powered by DC currents.