Electric Shocks or Tingles

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Written By Tristan Cameron

There is some basic electrical knowledge that every Australian should know. One is determining the difference between a static electricity shock and a shock from an electric current (also known as a tingle). 

Knowing the difference is vital. If you have experienced an electric shock, you need to contact us at North Shore Electricians immediately. One shock means something is seriously wrong with your electrical system, and future shocks are likely.

Here’s a look at how to identify the two and what to do in the event of an electric shock.

Static Shock vs Electric Shock

It’s vital to know the difference between static and electric shock; one is relatively harmless, and the other could be deadly.

What is Static Shock

Static shock is that quick jolt you get when you touch something metal after walking on the carpet in slippers. Static electricity is a buildup of charge on an inductor’s surface; it sits there until it gets ‘released’, for example, when you touch it.

There are three types of static shock:

  • Contact status buildup: when two objects, one positive charge and one negative, contact each other, and electrons are transferred from one to the other.
  • Frictional static buildup: when friction occurs between two objects. Like the slippers on the carpet example above, this is a build-up of static electricity.
  • Detachment static buildup: occurs when the positive and negative objects in the contact example are separated. This produces the highest levels of static electricity.

It’s quick, sure; it’s uncomfortable for a second, then it’s over, and there’s no harm done unless the physical shock of the experience causes you to have an accident.

What is an Electric Shock or Tingle?

An electric shock is when you’ve been exposed to live electricity. This is a live current of electricity significantly higher, carrying more amps and volts than static electricity, and can be very painful and can cause burns, heart attacks and death. 

Electric shocks are caused by faults in wires, appliances and connections

Wire Faults

For electricity to flow through the wires to an appliance, an entire circuit must be completed. To function correctly, there are two wires. The active one provides the electricity while the neutral one returns the power back to the supply.

Suppose either of these wires is frayed or damaged. In that case, the electricity cannot complete its circuit, and it remains in place at the point of damage or the appliance itself. This is known as a short circuit.

Most appliances today have a third wire, the earth one. This is used to identify any issues; if the charge travels down the earth wire, it will trip the safety switch or circuit breaker, preventing a shock. The protective devices won’t activate if this wire is damaged, and a shock is likely. 

Water Shock

Electricity and water aren’t friends. You’ve all seen the memes when someone throws a plugged-in toaster into their enemy’s bathtub. This action would immediately cause an electric shock.

Have you ever touched a tap and been shocked? This is a common occurrence when an active wire somewhere in your home is touching a metal pipe. The electricity is freely flowing through that pipe and is looking for an outlet, namely the end of the line, the tap. 

If the earth wire was functioning correctly, the moment the live wire hit the pipe, it would activate the safety switch. If you’ve been shocked, then the earth wire has failed.

How to Tell Which Shock You’ve Experienced

A static electricity shock is a quick jolt; your body doesn’t experience any damage, and it’s over almost as quickly as it’s begun. It’s more likely to be experienced when touching a door or even another person.

An electric shock caused by live electricity most often occurs when touching an appliance or a tap. You’ll know if you’ve had one of these as the tingling sensation lasts longer; you may even be momentarily stunned or knocked to the ground. 

If you’ve experienced an electric shock, no matter how minor, it means there are issues in your power system that need to be rectified immediately.

What to do After Experiencing an Electric Shock or Tingle

There are two things to do after someone in the house has received an electric shock. Seek medical help and then get a professional to solve the issues.

Get Medical Assistance

First and foremost, is medical attention required? If it was a minor shock and there were no lingering physical or neurological issues, then the person should be fine.

If the shock was severe and they’ve been knocked down or experienced burns, seek medical attention right away. Don’t hesitate to call 000.  

If you’re assisting someone who’s been shocked, do not touch them, as the electric charge may still be going through them. Ensure all the power to the property has been turned off in the mains switchboard, then go to their aid.

How to Fix the Electrical Issues

The next step is to get the issue resolved. Electric shocks are sometimes coupled with flickering lights or buzzing sounds in the wiring or at power points. Do an inspection of the property to see if you can see or hear anything unusual. Avoid touching anything electrically related. 

It’s worth checking with your neighbours to see if they’re experiencing a similar problem. If so, the issue is with the street mains, and your energy provider needs to be contacted on their emergency hotline number.

If it appears that it’s only at your place, then it’s time to call us at North Shore Electricians. We’ve been serving Sydney for over 20 years, and we’ve seen all manner of electrical issues. We can usually pinpoint the problem in a short time and get to work resolving it. 

The challenge with many of Sydney’s homes is that the wiring system is old, and there is significant damage inside the walls that you can’t see. In some cases, a complete home rewiring may be needed. 

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