What Happens When You Get Electrocuted?

Most of the cases we call “electrocutions” are actually electric shocks: an electric current running through a body. Whether an electric shock becomes an electrocution depends on the nature of the current involved.

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Sources: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/injuries-and-poisoning/electrical-and-lightning-injuries/electrical-injuries
https://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/systems/nervous-system/human-body-make-electricity.htm
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763825/
https://safety.grainger.com/facilities/automated-external-defibrillators-aed
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Caption: [music]. in cartoons it's pretty easy to tell . when somebody's getting electrocuted. their skeleton flashes through their . skin their hair stick straight up and . there's smoke everywhere maybe some . electric sparks radiating out from their . body what actually happens when you are . shocked is much less flashy and much . more dangerous technically and . thankfully most of the cases we call . electrocutions are actually electric. shocks an electric current running . through a body the word electrocution . comes from a combination of the words . electric and execution so it was . specifically combined to describe death. by electric shock whether an electric . shock becomes an altercation depends on. the nature of the current involved a . current is the flow of electric charge . carried by electrons or ions and our . bodies are pretty responsive to them . because they use currents all the time . for example tiny electric pulses from . the movement of ions across membranes . are what trigger neurons and allow me to . move and be alive and talk to you right . now so when you're shocked and a much . stronger current passes through your . body the tissues it passes through can . overreact to that gush of electricity in . very mild cases you might only feel a . slight tingle in your skin but as things . ramp up the current can cause mild to . severe burns muscle contractions or even . seizures because nerves and muscles are. getting overstimulated the amount of . current that's flowing is measured in. amperes and a current of only 20 . milliamps can cause someone to lose . control of their diaphragm and stop . breathing and a hundred milliamps can . stop a heart now more than a hundred . milliamps of current run through your . phone charger but touching its live wire . won't kill you not that i recommend you . try it it's not deadly because the . amount of current in the wire isn't . actually what matters what matters is . how much current gets into your body and . that's influenced by two things the . voltage which is the difference in . electrical potential that's driving the. current and your body's resistance to . the current basically if the current is . like water flowing through a pipe the . voltage would be the water pressure and . the resistance would be like the . narrowest section of the pipe making it . harder for the water to flow through . your skin is pretty good at resisting . current as long as the voltage isn't too . high. it's a strong natural barrier to . electric flow . because it's dry and thick it has way . more resistance than the wires in your . phone charger so it experiences much . less current of course even when your . skin resists the current the energy from. it still has to go somewhere which is. why heat is generated and why stronger . shocks can burn you electricity above . 500 volts is considered high voltage and . it's enough to punch through the . resistant barrier of the skin and zap . someone with enough current to stop . their heart in some cases this is . actually helpful if the heart isn't . beating right the carefully targeted. split-second three thousand volts shock . from a defibrillator can act like a . reset button allowing its muscles to. fall back into a normal rhythm but in a . healthy person stopping the heart is . obviously very very bad when skin is . damaged or wet it has much less . resistance that's why hair dryers have. those super strong warnings that using . them in a bath can be fatal even though . a typical electric outlet is considered . low voltage about 120 volts in the u. s. 230 in europe so even though an electric. shock can be mild and relatively . harmless even low voltage power sources . can pose significant risks and high. voltage sources are always super . dangerous which is why you should always . be aware of potential shock hazards and . hopefully you won't ever experience the . true definition of electrocution thank . you for watching this episode of scishow . if you really are fascinated by . electricity you might want to check out . the episode on whether you can . supercharge your brain with batteries . over on our sister channel scishow psych . at youtube. com slash scishow psyche . [music]. you. [music]. .
 

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