Discussion:
Electrocuted by Cell Phone
(too old to reply)
Charles Bishop
2017-07-14 16:59:57 UTC
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Following links[1] from another post, I ran across a video of a woman
explaining why a relative of hers (teen?) died while in a bathtub with
her cell phone nearby (on the edge, possibly). The cell phone was
connected to a charger which was plugged into 120V.

If only the cell phone and the low voltage end of the charger's cord
fell into the water, would this be enough to electrocute someone? It was
disturbing, so I didn't watch the video further to see if more details
were given, such as the charger was plugged into an extension cord and
that part fell into the water.


[1]

<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/07/13/police-sto
p-a-woman-for-her-tinted-windows-then-learn-shes-a-florida-state-attorney
/?tid=hybrid_collaborative_1_na&utm_term=.c3ae9300ffab>

The original story concerned a black woman who was pulled over by
Florida cops. When she turned out to be a state attorney, the cops
fumbled for a reason to have pulled her over. After this video played,
several others played, one of which was the story of the teen who was
electrocuted. I don't have a direct link.
--
charles
Greg Goss
2017-07-15 06:03:20 UTC
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Post by Charles Bishop
Following links[1] from another post, I ran across a video of a woman
explaining why a relative of hers (teen?) died while in a bathtub with
her cell phone nearby (on the edge, possibly). The cell phone was
connected to a charger which was plugged into 120V.
If only the cell phone and the low voltage end of the charger's cord
fell into the water, would this be enough to electrocute someone? It was
disturbing, so I didn't watch the video further to see if more details
were given, such as the charger was plugged into an extension cord and
that part fell into the water.
In radio discussions of this story, I've heard both that an extension
cord was involved, and also that one leg of cheap chargers connects
through and the other leg just steps down the voltage by some kind of
pulse, induct, and regulate without ever using a transformer.
(Transformers naturally isolate the output from the input, unless a
deliberate connection is made or a failure of insulation occurs.) My
electronic intuition isn't good enough to tell if that latter one
makes sense. If so, they should use the wide-leg narrow-leg model
that lamps use to control where the "hot" wire goes, and phone
chargers don't have the wide leg.
--
We are geeks. Resistance is voltage over current.
Questor
2017-07-19 04:32:13 UTC
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Post by Charles Bishop
Following links[1] from another post, I ran across a video of a woman
explaining why a relative of hers (teen?) died while in a bathtub with
her cell phone nearby (on the edge, possibly). The cell phone was
connected to a charger which was plugged into 120V.
If only the cell phone and the low voltage end of the charger's cord
fell into the water, would this be enough to electrocute someone? It was
disturbing, so I didn't watch the video further to see if more details
were given, such as the charger was plugged into an extension cord and
that part fell into the water.
Based on Greg's post it sounds like an extension cord and possibly other factors
were involved that resulted in wall current being transmitted to the bath water.

My understanding is that the low voltage supplied by chargers should not be an
electrocution threat, however I am not whatsoever inclined to do the empirical
research necessary to confirm this hypothesis. If Greg's comments about
transformer-less design don't give one pause, just general life experience
that "sometimes things just go wrong" should. I would rather not be another
tidbit in one of those "strange but true" features.

Decades ago, in a hobby electronics magazine's Q&A column a reader asked which
was more dangerous: low current at high voltage, or high current at low
voltage? I don't recall that there was a definitive answer, other than that due
to the unpredictability of the path taken by electricity through the body,
either one of those alternatives was likely to ruin your day.

Voltage is also known as electromotive force, and can be thought of in some
sense as the electrical "pressure." Current is the quantity of electrons. My
guess is that relatively few electrons forced through the body at high pressure
is worse than a lot of electrons conducted through the body with low force, but
so much is dependent on where they go. Both alternatives have the potential to
fatally disrupt the body's own electrical processes.
Peter Boulding
2017-07-19 12:31:17 UTC
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Post by Questor
Post by Charles Bishop
Following links[1] from another post, I ran across a video of a woman
explaining why a relative of hers (teen?) died while in a bathtub with
her cell phone nearby (on the edge, possibly). The cell phone was
connected to a charger which was plugged into 120V.
If only the cell phone and the low voltage end of the charger's cord
fell into the water, would this be enough to electrocute someone? It was
disturbing, so I didn't watch the video further to see if more details
were given, such as the charger was plugged into an extension cord and
that part fell into the water.
Based on Greg's post it sounds like an extension cord and possibly other factors
were involved that resulted in wall current being transmitted to the bath water.
My understanding is that the low voltage supplied by chargers should not be an
electrocution threat, however I am not whatsoever inclined to do the empirical
research necessary to confirm this hypothesis. If Greg's comments about
transformer-less design don't give one pause, just general life experience
that "sometimes things just go wrong" should. I would rather not be another
tidbit in one of those "strange but true" features.
Decades ago, in a hobby electronics magazine's Q&A column a reader asked which
was more dangerous: low current at high voltage, or high current at low
voltage? I don't recall that there was a definitive answer, other than that due
to the unpredictability of the path taken by electricity through the body,
either one of those alternatives was likely to ruin your day.
Voltage is also known as electromotive force, and can be thought of in some
sense as the electrical "pressure." Current is the quantity of electrons. My
guess is that relatively few electrons forced through the body at high pressure
is worse than a lot of electrons conducted through the body with low force, but
so much is dependent on where they go. Both alternatives have the potential to
fatally disrupt the body's own electrical processes.
In the less safety-conscious sixties my school's physics department put on
some class project demos a part of the school's annual fair. These included:

* A demo of a Van de Graaff generator in which a volunteer kid gripped the
relevant contact while standing on a wooden stool, so that parents and other
visitors could watch as the kid's static charge rose to half a million volts
(at a minuscule fraction of an amp) and his hair rose to stand on end... at
one point the lab got too crowded and a visiting mum was accidentally pushed
into the kid: there was an incredibly loud SNAP! as the two were thrown
backwards into other bystanders; luckily neither had a weak heart and both
were fully recovered (apart from a little residual shock) within five
minutes.

* A step-down transformer utilising rheostats--which would themselves get
red hot--that we used to melt six-inch galvanised nails by passing 600 amps
at a fraction of a volt through it. I'm damn glad that no-one got pushed
into *that* device, which was most definitely not safely caged so that
no-one could accidentally touch it--with probably deadly effect.
--
Regards, Peter Boulding
***@UNSPAMpboulding.co.uk (to e-mail, remove "UNSPAM")
Fractal Images and Music: http://www.pboulding.co.uk/
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=794240&content=music
Snidely
2017-07-20 09:10:20 UTC
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Post by Questor
Post by Charles Bishop
Following links[1] from another post, I ran across a video of a woman
explaining why a relative of hers (teen?) died while in a bathtub with
her cell phone nearby (on the edge, possibly). The cell phone was
connected to a charger which was plugged into 120V.
If only the cell phone and the low voltage end of the charger's cord
fell into the water, would this be enough to electrocute someone? It was
disturbing, so I didn't watch the video further to see if more details
were given, such as the charger was plugged into an extension cord and
that part fell into the water.
Based on Greg's post it sounds like an extension cord and possibly other
factors were involved that resulted in wall current being transmitted to the
bath water.
My understanding is that the low voltage supplied by chargers should not be
an electrocution threat, however I am not whatsoever inclined to do the
empirical research necessary to confirm this hypothesis. If Greg's comments
about transformer-less design don't give one pause, just general life
experience that "sometimes things just go wrong" should. I would rather not
be another tidbit in one of those "strange but true" features.
Decades ago, in a hobby electronics magazine's Q&A column a reader asked
which was more dangerous: low current at high voltage, or high current at
low voltage? I don't recall that there was a definitive answer, other than
that due to the unpredictability of the path taken by electricity through the
body, either one of those alternatives was likely to ruin your day.
Voltage is also known as electromotive force, and can be thought of in some
sense as the electrical "pressure." Current is the quantity of electrons.
My guess is that relatively few electrons forced through the body at high
pressure is worse than a lot of electrons conducted through the body with low
force, but so much is dependent on where they go. Both alternatives have the
potential to fatally disrupt the body's own electrical processes.
I believe low current high voltage is quite bad, lots of electrons
messing with your nerve chemicals, and that 50-60 Hz makes it worse,
and arm-to-arm makes it much worse.

/dps
--
Who, me? And what lacuna?
Snidely
2017-07-20 09:11:28 UTC
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Post by Snidely
Post by Questor
Post by Charles Bishop
Following links[1] from another post, I ran across a video of a woman
explaining why a relative of hers (teen?) died while in a bathtub with her
cell phone nearby (on the edge, possibly). The cell phone was connected to
a charger which was plugged into 120V.
If only the cell phone and the low voltage end of the charger's cord fell
into the water, would this be enough to electrocute someone? It was
disturbing, so I didn't watch the video further to see if more details
were given, such as the charger was plugged into an extension cord and
that part fell into the water.
Based on Greg's post it sounds like an extension cord and possibly other
factors were involved that resulted in wall current being transmitted to
the bath water.
My understanding is that the low voltage supplied by chargers should not be
an electrocution threat, however I am not whatsoever inclined to do the
empirical research necessary to confirm this hypothesis. If Greg's
comments about transformer-less design don't give one pause, just general
life experience that "sometimes things just go wrong" should. I would
rather not be another tidbit in one of those "strange but true" features.
Decades ago, in a hobby electronics magazine's Q&A column a reader asked
which was more dangerous: low current at high voltage, or high current at
low voltage? I don't recall that there was a definitive answer, other than
that due to the unpredictability of the path taken by electricity through
the body, either one of those alternatives was likely to ruin your day.
Voltage is also known as electromotive force, and can be thought of in some
sense as the electrical "pressure." Current is the quantity of electrons.
My guess is that relatively few electrons forced through the body at high
pressure is worse than a lot of electrons conducted through the body with
low force, but so much is dependent on where they go. Both alternatives
have the potential to fatally disrupt the body's own electrical processes.
I believe low current high voltage
crap, I thought I fixed that ... s/b low voltage high current
Post by Snidely
is quite bad, lots of electrons messing
with your nerve chemicals, and that 50-60 Hz makes it worse, and arm-to-arm
makes it much worse.
/dps
--
"What do you think of my cart, Miss Morland? A neat one, is not it?
Well hung: curricle-hung in fact. Come sit by me and we'll test the
springs."
(Speculative fiction by H.Lacedaemonian.)
Jeff Wisnia
2017-07-27 16:13:49 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Charles Bishop
Following links[1] from another post, I ran across a video of a woman
explaining why a relative of hers (teen?) died while in a bathtub with
her cell phone nearby (on the edge, possibly). The cell phone was
connected to a charger which was plugged into 120V.
If only the cell phone and the low voltage end of the charger's cord
fell into the water, would this be enough to electrocute someone? It was
disturbing, so I didn't watch the video further to see if more details
were given, such as the charger was plugged into an extension cord and
that part fell into the water.
[1]
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/07/13/police-sto
p-a-woman-for-her-tinted-windows-then-learn-shes-a-florida-state-attorney
/?tid=hybrid_collaborative_1_na&utm_term=.c3ae9300ffab>
The original story concerned a black woman who was pulled over by
Florida cops. When she turned out to be a state attorney, the cops
fumbled for a reason to have pulled her over. After this video played,
several others played, one of which was the story of the teen who was
electrocuted. I don't have a direct link.
More than one source reported that the extension cord was frayed and the
girl may have touched it while still in the bathtub. See:

http://tinyurl.com/ya64ecvz

Probably the outlet she plugged the cord into wasn't GFCI protected, it
might have been in an old home.

Speaking of outlets and switches, try these:

https://www.wkrp.org/jeff/outlet.html

Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
The speed of light is 1.8*10^12 furlongs per fortnight.
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