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MMD > Archives > May 2002 > 2002.05.29 > 03Prev  Next

Technically Dead!
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,

A homeowners worst nightmare is either fire or flood. Every other
problem usually pales by comparison (except perhaps a tornado, a
hurricane, or an earthquake). So, when my wife came to me at 4:45 AM
and said that the basement was flooded, I freaked out!! I got up, and
ran downstairs as fast as my feet could carry me. However, I stopped
before stepping into the water (2-1/2" deep) because I knew there were
at least two extension cords lying on the floor, and both of them were
plugged in to a live wall socket.

When I stopped at the foot of the stairs, fearing that I would be
electrocuted, my wife said, "What's the problem? I already turned off
the water!". I said, "How come you're not dead?"

You see, as an electronics technician, my concern was that there were
at least two extension cords that were under water.  And much to my
surprise, both of the devices that were connected to the AC line were
both working!

Here's where the question comes in. Why wasn't she electrocuted?  In
all the movies you see, if a person steps into water where there is
electricity, they get electrocuted? Pretty simple, right? Wrong!!
Evidently, it's a lot more complicated than what is represented in the
"movies". Not only did Pandora not get electrocuted, she turned off
the hot water valve leading to the washing machine, and prevented more
water from building up in the basement. (Judging by the height of the
solid cement barriers, the water could have been as high as five feet
before it would have escaped via the basement windows.)

So, my question is: Why didn't she feel even the slightest shock?

I mean, here she is in 2-1/2" of water, with two AC extension cords
lying in the water, and she grabs the 'grounded' water shut-off valve,
and nothing happens!!

So, based on the fact that she wasn't dead, I tread into the water and
disconnected to extension cords. No one was more surprised than me
that I didn't feel even the slightest shock. I guess I've been
watching too many Sci-Fi flicks, because I still can't figure out why
we didn't get electrocuted.

Can anyone tell me why I'm still here??


John A. Tuttle

 [ John,  This question has brought back to mind my field theory
 [ class from my EE training.  Your chances in the basement are
 [ better than with a hair dryer in the bathtub because of a number
 [ of factors.  I'll think about how I'd explain it and write
 [ more if others don't.  Jody

(Message sent Wed 29 May 2002, 19:46:17 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Dead, Technically

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