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Author Topic: Cell Phone Electrocution  (Read 5952 times)

Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Cell Phone Electrocution
« Reply #40 on: July 21, 2017, 03:38:20 pm »

If the bathtub uses metal pipes, then yes, because they would provide an alternative path. If plastic pipes, then you could toss a 2-wire extension cord in a tub and the GFCI would not trip. I'm not sure if there's a significant risk of electrocution in that scenario or not.

Plastic pipes are no guarantee of safety. Most water supplies are contaminated with some kind of ions that will make the water itself conductive.

Even plastic drain pipes that are "empty" of water will have a damp sludge buildup coating the inside of the pipe. That sludge may be conductive.
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Stop confusing the issue with facts and logic!

Bill Koonce

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Re: Cell Phone Electrocution
« Reply #41 on: July 28, 2017, 06:38:50 pm »

I am located 18 miles from where this tragic event occurred, so it has been in the local paper daily.  Though no official cause of death has been issued, it was confirmed that the young lady was using an extension cord to plug in her charger.  She even sent a picture of the charger plugged into the cord to her friend.  She may have pulled the extension cord into the bath tub. It was a fatal mistake.

I don't have information on whether the extension cord was plugged into a GFI outlet or not.  If I understand correctly, even though this was not a business, OSHA and other Federal agencies have investigated the accident.

Our hearts go out to her family and friends.
That was the news here in Albuquerque (KOAT or KRQE) too. And for the record, my house was purchased in 2016 (after passing an electrical inspection) with no GFCI devices whatsoever in the house, but several wiring faults that I later discovered.

It's a sad fact that a layperson's understanding of electricity tends to lie at less-than-useful extremes. I know people who wouldn't operate an insulated wall switch while carrying an otherwise dry glass of distilled water, because of a mostly unfounded fear. At the other end, some don't even think of potential dangers.

Is a parent to blame for not knowing enough about electricity? I don't know. Perhaps those of us who make it our business to know more need to up our game, and make it our business to teach the laypeople in our lives basic safety rules, and encourage them to pass that good info along.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Cell Phone Electrocution
« Reply #42 on: July 28, 2017, 06:45:47 pm »

That was the news here in Albuquerque (KOAT or KRQE) too. And for the record, my house was purchased in 2016 (after passing an electrical inspection) with no GFCI devices whatsoever in the house, but several wiring faults that I later discovered.

It's a sad fact that a layperson's understanding of electricity tends to lie at less-than-useful extremes. I know people who wouldn't operate an insulated wall switch while carrying an otherwise dry glass of distilled water, because of a mostly unfounded fear. At the other end, some don't even think of potential dangers.

Is a parent to blame for not knowing enough about electricity? I don't know. Perhaps those of us who make it our business to know more need to up our game, and make it our business to teach the laypeople in our lives basic safety rules, and encourage them to pass that good info along.

I'm not into victim blaming as way to pass the time but recent events make me wonder how a person can live as a part of the modern world and not know that combining mains AC with water and humans is a Really Bad Thing.

Partly I think that the relative level of electrical safety that has been achieved over the last 100 years has led to complacency - you don't know what you don't need to know - and that the rarity of domestic electrocution deaths means few have heard of or been witness to such things.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Cell Phone Electrocution
« Reply #43 on: July 28, 2017, 07:17:07 pm »

Keep in mind that inspectors are human-and vary in knowledge and in the zeal with which they apply that knowledge to their job.  Just like a sound guy can't please everyone-they can't always get the balance of the letter of the law and common sense just right for everyone.  Also, many are hired by people who have no clue and can only judge an inspector's skill by the license he holds-which guarantees little.  From my POV (as a contractor) they are mainly a way to level the playing field-and maybe provide me with a little bit of a shield because they approved my work-I wouldn't take their thumbs up as a sign of job well done.

It seems like the safer we require things to be, the more people expect and rely on "them" to keep them safe.  How often do you hear, "why didn't they......"? Who's they?  I supervise 3 young guys in an industrial maintenance setting.  The one with the most training (he serves in the National Guard & as a volunteer firefighter) is the one I have the hardest time getting to follow safety rules.  He knows better, but "knows" it'll never happen to him.

Victim bashing is uncalled for-I feel bad for the family.  I have never lost a child so I cannot imagine how that feels.  On the other hand, being honest and candid is the only way for anything positive to come from this-or any- tragedy.
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Steve Swaffer

Bill Koonce

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Re: Cell Phone Electrocution
« Reply #44 on: July 28, 2017, 08:04:53 pm »

I'm not into victim blaming as way to pass the time but recent events make me wonder how a person can live as a part of the modern world and not know that combining mains AC with water and humans is a Really Bad Thing.

Partly I think that the relative level of electrical safety that has been achieved over the last 100 years has led to complacency - you don't know what you don't need to know - and that the rarity of domestic electrocution deaths means few have heard of or been witness to such things.
I hear you, Tim! My first logical impulse was "the parents are responsible for their children, so..." All too easy to judge when you're the one with the answers in hindsight. But when I had those facts drilled into my head, every phone had a cord and most TV sets were connected to a rooftop aerial. Every time an electrical storm came, our parents told us to stay away from phones, light switches and even windows. And if not our parents, the local TV weatherman came to our school every year to deliver the same message. I also had a couple of friends whose dads were amateur radio operators; those dads could talk for hours about electrical safety.

Today most public schools haven't had the budget for much more than the "three R's" since that girl's parents were kids. And now most homes don't have a wireline phone, and the TV comes in from a buried cable, not the roof. Electricity still comes in the same way, but as you noted, it's the lone exception in a cordless world. Many people don't know that their cellphones use radios because they don't need to know that to use them. And neighborhood experts like radio hams are all but gone.

I'd say that the institutions that used to keep people aware and alert are going away, and no new ones are filling that need. What's worse, everyone is so busy these days, I wonder if it's even possible to find the time to fill gaps like this. Looks like a lost cause, but not a good reason to give up.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: Cell Phone Electrocution
« Reply #45 on: July 29, 2017, 12:45:33 am »

Keep in mind that inspectors are human-and vary in knowledge and in the zeal with which they apply that knowledge to their job.  Just like a sound guy can't please everyone-they can't always get the balance of the letter of the law and common sense just right for everyone.  Also, many are hired by people who have no clue and can only judge an inspector's skill by the license he holds-which guarantees little.  From my POV (as a contractor) they are mainly a way to level the playing field-and maybe provide me with a little bit of a shield because they approved my work-I wouldn't take their thumbs up as a sign of job well done.

It seems like the safer we require things to be, the more people expect and rely on "them" to keep them safe.  How often do you hear, "why didn't they......"? Who's they?  I supervise 3 young guys in an industrial maintenance setting.  The one with the most training (he serves in the National Guard & as a volunteer firefighter) is the one I have the hardest time getting to follow safety rules.  He knows better, but "knows" it'll never happen to him.

Victim bashing is uncalled for-I feel bad for the family.  I have never lost a child so I cannot imagine how that feels.  On the other hand, being honest and candid is the only way for anything positive to come from this-or any- tragedy.

Municipal inspection means very little.  Based on my experiences being inspected if you do things in a workman-like-manner the inspector will spend very little time looking at it.  I've never once even been asked about conductor de-rating, conduit fill, box fill, devices per ckt, etc.  The last inspection I had the inspector didn't want to climb up the ladder into the attic (can't blame him) so I just told him what he did and he signed off.

On facebook I follow a local home inspection company (buyers inspections, not muni).  It's remarkable the kinds of things this company comes across, even on new construction fully inspected properties.  Simple, easy to catch things like adequate insulation in attics.  If anyone's interested, look up structuretech.

It's also important to keep in mind that NEC and all the other various codes represent minimum safety standards.  There's lots of ways to go above and beyond what code requires. 

No disrespect to muni inspectors, they're doing the job they were hired for and are paid to do.  With how little I pay for an electrical permit they don't have anywhere close to time to look at everything and still keep the bills paid.
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