Electric Shock Severity

What causes electric shock, voltage or current

Electric shock is caused by the combination of both Voltage and current. In other words, it is caused by power devolved to your body. As we know

Power = Energy/time

In Electrical terms

Power = VI that is Voltage * Current.

Which one is more dangerous, Voltage or Current

Do not get me wrong, both are dangerous but it is the current that does all the damage. It is the voltage that initiates it all.

If I applied 10,000 voltage across your body but if not current flows across your body, you will not feel any electric shock.

On the other hand if I apply 10 voltage across your body and for some reason you are wet and your body resistance is low that causes current to flow through your body, you will feel electric shock.

How much current can kill you

The factors that contribute to Electric Shock are

Voltage:

The higher the voltage, the more current it can produce. Therefore high voltage is ALWAYS dangerous.

current:

It is the actual current though the body that does all the damage. if the voltage is high and for some reason your body resistance is very high too, little current will flow making the shock less severe

Duration of current:

The longer the duration of the electric shock, the more sever it will become. If you got electrocuted for 0.001 seconds for example, even if it is high power source, you might service

Path of current:

If the current path during electrocution is from your hand to the foot, this will be less server electric shock. If the path is such that the current passes through your heart, that will be far more servere shock.

The following is the list of currents that can initiate electric shock. I copied this from Principles of Electric Circuit by FLOYD,on page 59. On thing that I should mention here is that voltage has been entirely neglected in this case. I think these currents should have corresponding to a particular voltage that causes this current. We can not take voltage out of the equation. In this case, I would assume voltage to be 110V which is common voltage supply in houses in the US.

Current (mA) Physical Effect
0.4 Slight Sensation
1.1 Perception threshold
1.8 Shock, no pain, no loss of mascular control
9 Painful shock, no loss of muscular control
16 Painful shock, let go threshold
23 Sever painful shock, muscular contraction, breathing difficulty
75 Ventricular fibrillation, threshold
235 Ventricular fibrillation, usually fetal for duration of 5 seconds
4,000 Heart paralysis (no ventricular fibrillation)
5,000 Tissue burn

Source : Priciples of Electric Circuit by FLOYD, page 59

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