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Electricity Basics: Part I

Electricity Basics: Part I

Part 1

Previously on this blog we discussed the basic items on an electricity bill, as over the years we’ve noticed how easy it is for important information to get lost in the noise of day to day life.

Now we’re going to take it back a step further. We’re going to discuss the basics of electricity. Ironically, electricity is so powerful and we’re so reliant on it on a daily basis, yet many people know little about it. Perhaps more concerning are the myths that many believe today (See: wood CAN conduct electricity…)

This is Part 1 of 4, so please bookmark these pages, share them, get the word out as this information could one day save someone’s life!

Electricity seeks the easiest and shortest paths to the ground

This is possibly the most misunderstood of all facts about electricity. When people or objects come too close to, or touch an electrical wire, they can become a part of an electrical circuit which can result in an instant flow of electricity through them to the ground. Think of the ground as the ‘destination’, and yourself as the vessel. Electricity will use you to get to its destination as quickly as it can.

The flow of electricity through the human body can kill

Less than one ampere of electricity can burn, severely injure or cause death. Electricity is fast – electricity travels at approximately 299,330 km per second. That leaves no room for mistakes – never put yourself into electricity’s path.

"Conductors" conduct electricity readily and in large amounts

It’s a common myth that wood cannot conduct electricity. The space between molecules within wood make it a poorconductor of electricity, but still a possible conductor. All metals, waters, humans and yes even non-metallic materials (trees, ropes etc.) can conduct electricity depending on moisture content and surface.

Birds land on wires, so they must be safe to touch

Hopefully this one is a bit more obvious after reading the above. Electricity wants nothing more than to go to the ground and will always do so by the easiest most direct route. A bird on a wire doesn’t give electricity anywhere to go but back to the wire – easier for the current to stay right where it is in the wire and continue on its way.

Power lines are insulated, so they’re safe to touch

Many overhead power lines are insulated only to a level to prevent problems from incidental tree contact. They are usually not fully insulated to prevent injury to people.