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CheddarBug
12-02-2014, 12:26 AM
You guys are always so wonderfully helpful. This is probably a fairly simple answer and therefore a ridiculous question. But I am wondering if someone can be electrocuted by one of those electrical boxes found in some yards? I need a good electrical jolt for my character and he's in a cemetery. Not sure what else I could use...? Thanks. :)

mirandashell
12-02-2014, 12:35 AM
He could be but he'd need a good reason for poking about in one.

Drachen Jager
12-02-2014, 12:50 AM
Do you mean a transformer? If so, yes, potentially fatal.

Anything else isn't really likely to cause any more than a few burns. European power is a bit nastier, but still not enough to kill under most circumstances.

CheddarBug
12-02-2014, 01:00 AM
He definitely has a good reason to be poking about in one. And the amount of electrical shock isn't an issue, per se, as long as it's enough to give him a good jolt. So thank you for such a quick response. I can keep right on working on the piece. :) Very appreciated.

Drachen Jager
12-02-2014, 01:07 AM
Household power is 110-120V in North America, 240 in Europe. Anything between 90 and 500 will give you a good jolt if you touch one lead with each hand (or equally distant parts of your body), but won't leave burns.

If you get into the power supply for a house, or a washer/dryer socket you're dealing with three phase power and that's about twice the standard.

Transformers get into the thousands of volts, which is why they're locked securely away. Easily enough to kill a person if you're not careful, but very survivable. I knew a guy who accidentally got about 2500 volts arm to arm, shot back from the wall about four feet, crawled to the door and puked his guts out. He had minor burns to each hand, but was otherwise fine after a few hours (although it is possible he did some permanent nerve damage).

Note that the closer the two leads touch, the more powerful the zap. If you touched two leads of the three phase household power with two fingers on the same hand, or brushed up against them with an inch or two of skin, you'd get some severe burns (but risk of death is practically nil because the power will only run through the exposed bit of flesh).

badwolf.usmc
12-02-2014, 01:22 AM
My wife had a student of hers who was electrocuted to death when he investigated one of those transformers at his home, so yes, they can be very fatal.

If you want a fun way to "shock" someone then do this: Take the alternator from a car and have your character touch both leads while another character spins the shaft inside alternator. I've done it several times, nice little jolt without the danger of death.

robjvargas
12-02-2014, 02:22 AM
My wife had a student of hers who was electrocuted to death when he investigated one of those transformers at his home, so yes, they can be very fatal.

If you want a fun way to "shock" someone then do this: Take the alternator from a car and have your character touch both leads while another character spins the shaft inside alternator. I've done it several times, nice little jolt without the danger of death.

In the Navy, I was an Electrician's Mate. Anything over 30 volts was considered high voltage because, under the right conditions, 30 volts can produce the necessary current to kill you ("It's not the volts that kill you; it's the amps.").

One instructor proceeded to illustrate this by poking his thumbs with the needle probe ends of a 9-volt-powered multimeter. The instructor did not survive the experience.

Point being: Never assume there's a "without the danger of death." IMO, any "jolt" from electricity marks a potentially fatal moment.

keiju
12-02-2014, 05:03 AM
Just wanted to be annoying and mention that when you are electrocuted, technically you die. Otherwise it's an electric shock.

unionrdr
12-02-2014, 05:28 AM
It's kinda funny to look back on now. I was driving a big Massey-Ferguson tractor years ago. The exhaust stack wouldn't clear the wire set higher than the electric fence, supposedly to drive under it. I waited for the pulse you can hear to pass by, then lifted it over the stack. Well, that pulse traveled the circuit quicker than I thought, & I got a hard jolt from it that set me back down in my seat! It ran off two hotshot batteries in a small transformer box.

SianaBlackwood
12-02-2014, 06:30 AM
If there's a paddock with livestock in it next to the cemetery, you could always have the character touch an electrified fence.

badwolf.usmc
12-02-2014, 07:56 PM
In the Navy, I was an Electrician's Mate. Anything over 30 volts was considered high voltage because, under the right conditions, 30 volts can produce the necessary current to kill you ("It's not the volts that kill you; it's the amps.").

One instructor proceeded to illustrate this by poking his thumbs with the needle probe ends of a 9-volt-powered multimeter. The instructor did not survive the experience.

Point being: Never assume there's a "without the danger of death." IMO, any "jolt" from electricity marks a potentially fatal moment.

Fair point.

Andreas_Montoya
12-02-2014, 09:35 PM
Lightning.

sabindanjoup
12-02-2014, 10:13 PM
In the Navy, I was an Electrician's Mate. Anything over 30 volts was considered high voltage because, under the right conditions, 30 volts can produce the necessary current to kill you ("It's not the volts that kill you; it's the amps.").

One instructor proceeded to illustrate this by poking his thumbs with the needle probe ends of a 9-volt-powered multimeter. The instructor did not survive the experience.

Point being: Never assume there's a "without the danger of death." IMO, any "jolt" from electricity marks a potentially fatal moment.
He died after touching the wrong end of a 9 volt multimeter?
That's crazy, right? I've touched more than my fair share of multimeters, and it never occured to me that it might be dangerous.

robjvargas
12-02-2014, 10:15 PM
He died after touching the wrong end of a 9 volt multimeter?
That's crazy, right?

Maybe I should have said "stabbed." The instructor stuck the probes *into* his finger, one on each hand, so that the DC current passed through his heart.

benbradley
12-02-2014, 10:27 PM
I was waiting for this topic to come up...

Just wanted to be annoying and mention that when you are electrocuted, technically you die. Otherwise it's an electric shock.
While I'm wanting to agree with every fiber of my body (!) (specifically with the claim that "electrocuted to death" is redundant), word usage tends to slip out from under the feet of word definition. I'm part of the discussion here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Electrocution

We should really be upset over someone being electrocuted without being duly convicted of a capital crime, but that would get back to the ORIGINAL original definition.

sabindanjoup
12-03-2014, 12:03 AM
Maybe I should have said "stabbed." The instructor stuck the probes *into* his finger, one on each hand, so that the DC current passed through his heart.
Okay. Guess that makes more sense.
But it's still crazy! :)

Bolero
12-03-2014, 12:06 AM
The handy rhyme I was taught was
Its Volts that jolt and Mills that kills (as in milliamps).

And yes, electric fences hurt.

WeaselFire
12-03-2014, 12:09 AM
Okay. Guess that makes more sense.
But it's still crazy! :)

Still doesn't make sense. A 9 volt battery, without capacitors, can't generate amperage that kills. And a multimeter doesn't have any capacitance storage.

There can be more to the story to make it happen though. Plus, military equipment might be really odd. Not as odd as purposely impaling one's self with probes...

Jeff

Albedo
12-03-2014, 01:14 AM
Still doesn't make sense. A 9 volt battery, without capacitors, can't generate amperage that kills. And a multimeter doesn't have any capacitance storage.

There can be more to the story to make it happen though. Plus, military equipment might be really odd. Not as odd as purposely impaling one's self with probes...

Jeff

It takes milliamps to put the heart into ventricular fibrillation. Wouldn't 9V / very, very low resistance (e.g. from jamming multimeter probes into your wet, salty fingers), even if there was bugger all charge, be enough?

King Neptune
12-03-2014, 01:38 AM
It takes milliamps to put the heart into ventricular fibrillation. Wouldn't 9V / very, very low resistance (e.g. from jamming multimeter probes into your wet, salty fingers), even if there was bugger all charge, be enough?

If it only takes milliamps, then a 9V battery probably could do the job. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine-volt_battery

That would be an interesting murder weapon.

Albedo
12-03-2014, 01:46 AM
The threshhold is about 30 mA IIRC. So a max resistance of 300 ohms. The internal resistance of the human body is 300-1000 ohms (https://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=6793), so it's more than feasible if you got unlucky. Like Rob's instructor, presumably.

robjvargas
12-03-2014, 02:01 AM
Here was the thumbrule we were taught in the US Navy Electrician's Mate "A" School:

.001 A (aka 1 milliamp) you can feel.
.01 A will make you jerk. (not a jerk, just jerk :tongue)
.1 A will kill you.

Under worst case conditions, the human body presents a resistance of 300 ohms. Using Ohm's Law, E=IR, 300 times 0.1 equals 30 volts.

Mind you, that last thumbrule does presume that one is intelligent enough not to inject a live electrical connection into one's flesh. Said injection becomes worse than worst case. In other words, stupid dumb.

Andreas_Montoya
12-03-2014, 05:10 PM
Well, keeping it real, dead people don't use a lot of electricity. I've never seen a transformer in a cemetery, there is no need for one. If he must be shocked and in a cemetery, perhaps a limb could take down a power line and be lying on the wet grass. The rubber soles on his shoes insulate him as he walks, but when he touches the headstone, he gets a good jolt.

badwolf.usmc
12-03-2014, 05:58 PM
http://www.today.com/news/stray-voltage-hidden-danger-can-strike-everyday-objects-1D80279142

Here is an article about stray voltage. Apparently, the insulation of some underground wires are eroding and that stray voltage is leaking to the surface and harming people. There are also instances of metal poles for signs being driven into the ground and coming into contact with underground power lines.

CheddarBug
12-03-2014, 07:35 PM
I say death isn't an issue because the character is technically already dead. I don't really want to go into details, but he needs the electric shock to be strong enough to get his heart beating again. He needs to shock himself back to life basically. And as someone who spends a fair amount of time at a stable I did entertain the thought of an electric fence, just don't feel it quite fits the scene.

benbradley
12-03-2014, 08:49 PM
I might go with a lightning strike, though the chances of lightning hitting a presumably-just-died person and shocking them back to life seems quite improbable.

Perhaps have an overhead power wire (and who's going to complain about power wires going over a cemetery?) break and as it falls to the ground brush over him long enough to give him a "good" shock. He's going to have to get lucky, regardless.

There's the newfangled emergency response drone, but it would have to make the contacts itself and give him the shock all on its own. Maybe the next model will do that.

CheddarBug
12-03-2014, 09:00 PM
I suppose I'll go with a downed wire since a nasty storm is referenced in the beginning of the story. It's not a matter of "luck" as the character is very much "alive" though he's dead, if that makes any sense. He'll be grabbing hold of the wire to give himself the jolt.