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Author Topic: What 14,000 volts can do to you  (Read 7917 times)

Mike Sokol

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What 14,000 volts can do to you
« on: February 24, 2014, 05:35:23 pm »

Here's the eyes of an electrician who took a 14,000 volt shock through his shoulder and lived. Kind of looks like custom contact lenses for some rock star.

See http://ecmweb.com/shock-amp-electrocution/electricians-eyes-damaged-shock-incident for the full story.
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Andrew Broughton

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2014, 05:53:37 pm »

I thought you were going to show this video.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2014, 10:24:36 pm »

Any time you get into a situation where 600 Volts is considered low voltage its time to walk very very carefully!  I am more than happy to let others have the thrill.

I used to have to work on an inductive welder that used a vacuum tube oscillator running at 13.8 kV.  Fortunately it was fairly well behaved and low maintenance.  We ran it at about 20 Kw, though it was capable of 100 Kw.  Doubt I'll run into any audio stuff putting out that kind of power any time soon though-which is fine by me.

Its amazing to me that he survived-and still has some vision to live by.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2014, 06:52:25 am »

I thought you were going to show this video.

My students at school regularly find this video and play it for the new kids, some of whom look ill after watching it. Interestingly, many of them think it's somehow a CG faked effect. But I'm pretty sure it's just some dumb guy with a death wish who's now dead. 

In the thread where we're discussing overhead high-tension lines inducing voltage in vehicles below them there's a bunch of references in the Bonneville Power paper about farmers maintaining a 14-ft clearance between the top of their machinery and drooping high-voltage lines. Since the 28-ft suggested minimum ground clearance PoCo tries to maintain is an average, a tall hill can get the ground MUCH closer to the lines than that. And because farm machinery is often 14-ft tall, they tell me there's been instances where a worker was standing on the top of his "combine" and accidentally contacted a low-hanging 250,000 volt line with his body. I'll bet that was a REALLY BIG bang!!!
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Milt Hathaway

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2014, 12:33:47 pm »

During my time as a HAM our club once hosted a rep from the local electrical utility. His job was to scare us into being DAMN CAREFUL when erecting towers and such. He brought many slides of the gory aftermath of electrocutions and near-electrocutions. At the time buried services were much more dangerous due to the typically closed spaces and proximity to ground (aka: ability to easily accidentally complete a circuit), and because electrical paths often bypassed the heart these guys often lived with horrific injuries.

His lecture was very persuasive.

There are sites where these images can be found online, but I ain't linking them here.
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Jason Glass

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2014, 01:23:40 pm »

During my time as a HAM our club once hosted a rep from the local electrical utility. His job was to scare us into being DAMN CAREFUL when erecting towers and such. He brought many slides of the gory aftermath of electrocutions and near-electrocutions. At the time buried services were much more dangerous due to the typically closed spaces and proximity to ground (aka: ability to easily accidentally complete a circuit), and because electrical paths often bypassed the heart these guys often lived with horrific injuries.

His lecture was very persuasive.

There are sites where these images can be found online, but I ain't linking them here.

Speaking of antenna towers, you don't even need to touch a cable to get cooked if you climb the wrong tower at the wrong time:

http://www.sbe.org/sections/documents/RFSafetyTrainingHandout.pdf
http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/radio-frequency-safety
http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/rf-faqs.html#Q9

Jonathan Johnson

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2014, 02:35:01 pm »

Speaking of antenna towers, you don't even need to touch a cable to get cooked if you climb the wrong tower at the wrong time:

Legend has it that the microwave oven was invented by an engineer who was working with radar tubes. A candy bar in his pocket melted when he walked near an energized one, when inspiration struck.

I've also heard anecdotes of homeless people climbing radio towers to find a "warm" spot to sleep in front of a microwave antenna. Not that the spot was warm, but the RF warmed their bodies.
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Chris Clark

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2014, 08:15:04 pm »

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Cailen Waddell

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2014, 10:55:48 pm »

So a friend of mine sent this to me.  She is a local 2 hand in
Chicago...  The caption was, this is what happens when you disconnect energized feeder.  No way to verify but damn...
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Mike Sokol

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2014, 12:23:06 am »

So a friend of mine sent this to me.  She is a local 2 hand in
Chicago...  The caption was, this is what happens when you disconnect energized feeder.  No way to verify but damn...\

Please don't let this thread get too grizzly. Let's do links with a warning, but be careful of posting embedded pictures of burnt meat. But yes, that's exactly what happens from arc flash explosions.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 12:42:37 am by Mike Sokol »
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 12:36:56 am »

There's a lot of discussion here about direct contact with high voltage, but proximity can be just as injurious or deadly, especially when personnel does not have proper safety gear and there is an arc flash nearby. For example, disconnecting a high-current service (even low voltage) while under load -- or connecting high-current service to a dead short -- can result in large quantities of molten metal flying at supersonic speeds. If the arc flash is in the presence of flammable or explosive vapors, the danger is double.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2014, 12:49:56 am »

There's a lot of discussion here about direct contact with high voltage, but proximity can be just as injurious or deadly, especially when personnel does not have proper safety gear and there is an arc flash nearby. For example, disconnecting a high-current service (even low voltage) while under load -- or connecting high-current service to a dead short -- can result in large quantities of molten metal flying at supersonic speeds. If the arc flash is in the presence of flammable or explosive vapors, the danger is double.

Yup.... and here's the thread on the subject for those who are new to the party. http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,147539.0.html

I've got a lot of new information on arc flash safety which I'll post later this week if there's time. Just note that an arc-flash explosion produces a fireball which can be hotter than the surface of the sun traveling faster than the speed of sound. You DON'T want to be in the blast radius.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 12:53:30 am by Mike Sokol »
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Jeff Bankston

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2014, 03:05:09 am »

Any time you get into a situation where 600 Volts is considered low voltage its time to walk very very carefully!  I am more than happy to let others have the thrill.

I used to have to work on an inductive welder that used a vacuum tube oscillator running at 13.8 kV.  Fortunately it was fairly well behaved and low maintenance.  We ran it at about 20 Kw, though it was capable of 100 Kw.  Doubt I'll run into any audio stuff putting out that kind of power any time soon though-which is fine by me.

Its amazing to me that he survived-and still has some vision to live by.
the code considsers all voltages 600 and under to be "low voltage". any voltage above 600 is "high voltage" and they also teach that in school. 277/480 is in almost every business that has ballasted lighting. i'v wired up many 480 3 phase rtu's. a guy i worked with got shocked by 2 phases of 480. he was sore for a few days. flash from a ground out is a real danger. the bright light can blind you and the hot bits of molten metal can penetrate the skin and eyes.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2014, 06:46:06 am »

the code considsers all voltages 600 and under to be "low voltage". any voltage above 600 is "high voltage" and they also teach that in school. 277/480 is in almost every business that has ballasted lighting. i'v wired up many 480 3 phase rtu's. a guy i worked with got shocked by 2 phases of 480. he was sore for a few days. flash from a ground out is a real danger. the bright light can blind you and the hot bits of molten metal can penetrate the skin and eyes.

Even though I'm very careful about getting shocked from "low voltage" system, I'm extremely cautious about high-amperage circuits. Because  home and industrial wiring typically have insufficient voltage to cause actual nerve and physical tissue damage with brief exposure, most of the time it's heart fibrillation and stoppage that kills you. However, quick response with CPR and an AED can save your life with little long-term damage. But arc-blast damage is forever as you've seen from some of the pictures. Also know that while not often talked about on electrical sites, many arc-flash victims also suffer profound hearing loss from the blast. And as I've often noted, there's few things worse than a deaf sound engineer. hearing protection is an important part of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that's just recently being required for working around high-energy circuits.   
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Mike Sokol
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2014, 09:03:40 am »

Not to be argumentative, but the only reference to "low-voltage" in the NEC is in the RV section and it defines it there as less than 24 volts (but that def only applies to that section), other places refer to less than 50 volts, otherwise code refers to "under 600 volts" or "over 600 volts".  I don't have access to the NESC and that may define under 600 as low volts, or perhaps NFPA 70e might.  My reference was to the fact that in most facilities have 480 V or lower services, anything under 50 V will be considered low voltage, anything over will be considered and marked high voltage.  It can be confusing-and it can be dangerous if you are not aware and/or thinking.   In my world as an electrician, common vernacular is "low voltage wiring"=less than 50 volts.  If we deal with "over 600 V" well usually spec the voltage.  I am sure larger industrials/POCOs use different terms.

I watched a documentary on an arc flash incident the other night, I don't have the link, but it came up on youtube when I watched one of the previous videos in this post.  The man went into an MCC room that contained both 480 V and 2300 V MCCs.  In haste, he opened a can and did a voltage test-unfortunately he was in a 2300 V can with a 1000 V meter (looked like a Fluke).  The blast literally burned him out of his clothes, he managed to stagger several hundred feet, coworkers saw something glowing in the now darkened building and realized it was a man.  He was coherent and talked with EMTs and told coworkers what his mistake was-but he died the next day.  The video was made by coworkers-and the incident obviously impacted them tremendously as well.

Since many on here work in various facilities that may or may not have "greater than 600V", just make sure you know what that "High Voltage" sign really means. 
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Mike Sokol

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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2014, 09:35:55 am »

The man went into an MCC room that contained both 480 V and 2300 V MCCs.  In haste, he opened a can and did a voltage test-unfortunately he was in a 2300 V can with a 1000 V meter (looked like a Fluke).  The blast literally burned him out of his clothes, he managed to stagger several hundred feet, coworkers saw something glowing in the now darkened building and realized it was a man.  He was coherent and talked with EMTs and told coworkers what his mistake was-but he died the next day.  The video was made by coworkers-and the incident obviously impacted them tremendously as well.

This is also the best reason to use a high-quality meter for all measurements. I do know that high-end companies such as Fluke and Amprobe take meter arc-flash explosions very seriously, and I would NEVER poke a free Harbor-Freight meter into a service panel. A lot of this comes down to the safety class of the meter, so knowing if you have a Class I, II, III, or IV meter is important. I'm looking for a definitive chart to post here that shows these classes along with max voltages they can be used on. Most of my Fluke gear is Class IV and rated for 1,000 volts AC. But even if an inexpensive Class II meter has sufficient voltage ratings for what you're measuring, if there's a transient/voltage spike on the power line while you're "in the box", it can cause your cheap meter to explode. I think we should start a thread just on voltmeter classes and safety ratings. I'm not up to speed on all of this, so it would be a great education to do a little research and discussion. Is anybody here an meter classification expert who would like to weigh in on the subject?   
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Mike Sokol
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Re: What 14,000 volts can do to you
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2014, 09:35:55 am »


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