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How To Work Safely With Electrical Appliances?

written by: Ricky • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 8/24/2009

Are you a DIY freak and want to repair your electrical items by yourself? Well, it is certainly a good idea but do take care and follow certain tips lest you harm yourself

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    Most of us like to be self dependent and this includes carrying out the simple repairs of the household electrical appliances on our own. This is certainly a good tendency and though it might cause a slight revenue loss to the repair technicians, this skill-set comes in handy for small jobs. Normally it is too expensive and time consuming to get minor faults repaired from outside simply because you might have to transport the appliance to the repair shop or the technician might have to visit your place to do the needful. But just learn about the effects of electric shock and be careful in dealing with electricity.

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    Safety First

    It is very important to take care of the safety aspects whenever you are dealing with such situations. Obviously it is not a very attractive idea to become a victim of electrical shock and add to the problems rather than solving the one which you initially set out to solve by repairing the device. There are no hard and fast rules but just a bit of common sense and some general tips which you should follow.

    What Causes Damage

    You might want to know why is electric shock so hazardous. Well contrary to the popular notion that it is high voltage which causes damage, it is the current which causes harm to your body in various ways.

    Excessive current can cause your cells to burn out effect your muscles including heart muscles which obviously can lead even to death. The term “excessive current” does not imply huge current and it has been found as currents as low as the order of 20 milli-amps can cause discomfort and just four times this current could spell the end of life.

    When current passes through the human body, it acts like a wire connecting the terminals with a potential difference and providing a path for the current to flow through it. Since the body is composed of several parts, the severity of the effects also depends on the exact path or route taken by the current flowing through it. A current passing through the arm may only be sufficient to cause discomfort while the same amount of current passing via the chest could be fatal.

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    The Human Circuit

    Human Circuit The sketch shows how you can get electric shock from an appliance. The red line represents the path of current flow from the power socket to the electrical appliance into the ground via your body.

    Now you know that current flowing through a conductor is directly proportional to the voltage across its ends and inversely proportional to the resistance offered to the flow of current. Mathematically it is given by the equation V = I * R where V, I and R stand for voltage, current and resistance respectively.

    For current to be minimal the resistance has to be large. Normally dry human body has lot of resistance while it decreases drastically when you are wet. Hence based on the above postulates here are a few general tips for electrical safety.

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    Safety Tips

    • Be sure you know at least some basic things about the construction and working of the device you are handling. This is important both for your safety as well as for safety of the device being repaired. You can learn about the working of some common systems such as the electrical doorbell, water heater and tubelight in these articles.

    • It is always safe not to be over-confident in handling electrical devices. Do not hesitate to ask if not clear about anything

    • Plug off the device from the power socket before handling it

    • Always wear rubber or plastic slippers or boots to increase resistance

    • Make sure your hands or body are not wet while handling such devices

    • Always be sure to mark the wires before removing them so that they are fitted again in the right place

    • Once the appliance is repaired (or at least you think so), try it out with care to check if everything is fine

    • Always respect electricity as it is very similar to fire. It can be the best of friends but worst of enemies if mishandled.

    • Unfortunately if you still receive a shock, then you or your colleagues should know what to do. Here is an article on how to deal with electrical shocks.