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What will happen if electricity travels through you?

Answer: If electricity travels through you, it can cause serious injury or even death. Electricity can stop your heart, contract your muscles severely enough to break bones, and cause difficulty breathing. Electricity can also cause burns where it enters and leaves your body on its way to the ground, as well as damage to nerves and internal organs.

Do you have to be touching the ground directly to conduct electricity?

Answer: You do not have to be touching the ground directly to conduct electricity. Electricity can travel through you if you are standing on pavement or flooring, or if you are contacting any object that is in contact with the ground. You can also conduct electricity while perched in a tree.

If a person is shocked what can happen?

Answer: Electrical shock can cause serious injury or even death. It can make chest muscles contract, causing difficulty breathing and unconsciousness. The heart may stop pumping. Severe burns may occur inside the body and out. And muscles may spasm violently, enough to cause bone fractures. You can never tell when contact with electricity will be fatal, but you can be sure it will always hurt!

How bad can electrical injuries be?

Answer: Electricity’s effects depend on the pressure, the current, and the length of contact. High-voltage electricity from power lines can burn you from the inside out. It can also blast you clear of the electrical circuit, but the shock or fall could be fatal.

Can fruits and vegetables be a source of energy? I know apples are, but that’s all I know.

Answer: Yes, fruits and vegetables are definitely a source of energy for people. All foods that we eat are a source of energy, although some foods provide more energy than others. Foods that are high in sugar, such as most fruits—like apples—can provide a more noticeable, short-term energy boost than other foods. But vegetables also give our bodies energy. Both fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and some minerals, which nourish us in a different way than energy does, so it’s good to eat a lot of them!

I once saw a pair of shoes hanging from a power line. Why didn’t the shoes get burned up by the electricity in the line?

Answer: Shoes hanging on a power line don’t get burned for the same reason that birds standing on a power line don’t get shocked: they don’t give electricity a path to the ground, so electricity stays in the line and does not go through them. But if the shoes were to touch a power line and a power pole at the same time, they would provide a path to the ground and would get blasted with electric current. It wouldn’t be pretty!

By the way, if you ever see someone throwing shoes up onto a line, tell them to stop! The shoes can damage the power line, or someone trying to get the shoes down could be seriously shocked or even killed.

Do electric eels really create electricity?

Answer: Yes! An electric eel uses chemicals in its body to manufacture electricity. A large electric eel can produce a charge of up to 650 volts, which is more than five times the shocking power of a household outlet.

Why didn’t Ben Franklin get electrocuted when he tied a metal key to a kite string and flew the kite in a thunderstorm?

Answer: Ben Franklin probably did not do his famous kite experiment the way it is usually portrayed. (Franklin never wrote about it himself, and the only description we have of it was written by another scholar, Joseph Priestley, 15 years later.) Franklin believed lightning was a flow of electricity taking place in nature. He knew of electricity’s dangers, and would probably not have risked being struck by lightning by flying his kite during a storm. It is more likely that Franklin flew his kite before the storm occurred, and that his famous key gave off an electric spark by drawing small electrical charges from the air.

When a circuit is open, do electrons go backwards, or do they just stop?

Answer: Neither! In the wires of an electrical circuit, the electrons are always jiggling around. When a circuit is closed to run an appliance or a light bulb, the electrons jiggle a lot and travel through the wire. When the circuit is open, all the electrons just jiggle where they are—kind of like running in place.

How much energy is in a bolt of lightning?

Answer: One lightning strike can carry up to 30 million volts—as much electricity as 2.5 million car batteries.