The Effect of Electricity

The effect of electricity on your body really depends on the current of the power source and the length of time your body is exposed to it. It’s the difference between sticking your finger in a socket or getting struck by lightning. The first point of contact is also a huge factor. Electricity will always find the easiest way to the ground, but that’s not the only path it takes. Electricity will take every path available to the ground – this includes anything from a circuit in your house to an overhead powerline.

Alberta farm with power pole

Amperage vs Voltage

Amperage (the strength of a current of electricity) is what makes electricity fatal, but voltage (the amount of potential energy between two points on a circuit) is what pushes the current through our bodies. Depending on the amperage, direct contact with the power source for even a few seconds could be fatal. If you’re exposed to household voltages, you might suffer a muscle spasm or feel frozen and locked to the source. More powerful sources, like powerlines, typically blast victims clear of the circuit. This can result in terrible surface burns at the entrance and exit points as well as internal injuries. The electricity from a live wire will travel through anything metal, like vehicles or fences. It’s important not to touch anything that a line might be in contact with.

volt meter

The same thing can happen with pools of water and broken lines. Therefore, anytime you come across broken or fallen wires, you should assume that they are still live and extremely dangerous.

Puddle with car reflection

Whether you’re in a car or on foot, maintain a safe distance of at least 30 feet and call 9-1-1 and Battle River Power Coop immediately at 1.877.428.3972.

Downed tree on powerline