Characteristics of Electrical Shock - EPSCO

Electricity is such a part of our everyday lives that most people take it for granted. But not EPSCO.

Our ONE MOMENT online electrical safety training series helps you see just how devastating the effects of electrical shock can be, and what you can do to protect yourself. This week, we’re breaking down electrical shock to give you a better understanding of the science behind a shock.

There are three components to electrical shock: current, time, and path.

When a victim comes into contact with an object that’s electrified, they become part of a circuit, meaning the same electrical current flowing through the object will flow through their body too. The amount of damage depends on the number of amps the current carries. At only one milliamp, they’ll feel the current. At five milliamps, the victim will become locked into the circuit and be unable to let go. By fifty milliamps they’ll feel severe pain. And at a level of just one amp a person can suffer cardiac arrest. That’s about as much power as you’ll find flowing through a regular lightbulb.

The longer a victim is part of the circuit, the more severe their injuries will be. Time is a critical factor in electrical shock, and every fraction of a second increases the risk of heart fibrillation by hundreds of times.

The path the current takes through a victim’s body also determines their injuries. In electrical safety training, step potential and touch potential are the two paths we look at. Step potential means that the current enters one foot and exits out the other. Touch potential covers everything else, meaning the current enters at any point on your body and exits at another. That could be hand, legs, shoulders, head, or feet.

EPSCO ONE MOMENT electrical safety training aims to help you better understand what electrical shock is, so you’ll do everything you can to avoid it. Knowing even low levels and short exposures to electrical current can cause serious damage or death, will help you approach the threat seriously any time you’re working with electricity. Check out this week’s videos to learn even more about what shock is and how you can stay safe.