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Top 10 Shocking Facts About Electrocution

by John Resendez
fact checked by Jamie Frater

We can all agree there are a variety of things no one in this world wants to do and getting electrocuted is right at the top of that list for most people. This unfortunately does happen to people though and we always see the movies where people get zapped, but have you ever wondered what is really going on when this kind of thing happens? Well here are 10 things that that most people don’t know about the process of electrocution.

Top 10 Shocking Myths About Electricity

10 Electricity does NOT enter the body

We have all seen the movie where someone does something involving electricity and for some reason the electricity is visible to the person watching in the form of bright flowing energy flowing from cable or object straight into the person in a sort of wave. Well that part of the electricity flowing in is all wrong even if just on a technicality

What actually happens is the that a current is sent through your body and the electrons within your own body become highly active particles. Your own electrical charge is shifted from within and the energy will arc to the easiest route out. In the same way water doesn’t boil because the fire ends up inside of it but rather the water boils because of a change in the energy of its own molecules people get shocked because of the change in their own atomic makeup.

9 Our bodies can get thrown across the room

Another popular movie trope of getting electrocuted is when we see a person fly across the room essentially overloaded with power and launched from the sheer force of the shock being applied. Well electricity will cause you to fling across the room like a gigantic rag doll, at least sort of.

While the effect is real it is not the sudden surge of electricity that knocks you away with ghostly hand. In nature’s version of “why are you hitting yourself” bullying the electricity actually causes all the nerves in your body to misfire and can lead to you sending yourself flying by involuntarily leaping. These same mechanics of muscles contracting all willy nilly also may also require a change of underwear as your body can possibly void itself

8 Water is not a good conductor

Everyone knows that water is a incredibly great for sending electric shock to every creature that is a bit damp in the vicinity. Popular culture would even have you believe it does such a great job you could essentially throw a potato clock into a puddle and stop people dead in their tracks. But what if I told you you were all wrong about water?

That’s right water is actually a terrible conductor of electricity. It can barely create any flow between its molecules from one to another because of its lack of unstable electrons. However, we all know in the real world that electricity does flow through water fairly well. This is actually due to dissolved solids like metals and minerals in the waters. So the next time you see someone get killed via electro puddle you can start a lively conversation with your friends about why he probably wishes that puddle had been an ultra pure distilled water.

7 Your Eyes Can Melt

Your eyes are wonderful instruments in your body. They are among some of the most refined organs we have in terms of sensitivity and purpose. They are made up of many parts that are each delicate and precise and they were never ever intended to get electrocuted.

We already discussed that it is your body itself that actually electrocutes you as we know it and causes the burns we associate with such an event. However due to its moist, nerve jumbled nature eyes can get it especially bad. Because of the cluster of electronic signals to the eyes coupled with its own makeup getting a strong enough or long enough electric shock will actually cause the eyes to melt into a soupy milky looking mixture.

6 Your skin can turn to charcoal

The scientific term for this is carbonization and it is a huge tipping point in your experience of being electrocuted. This is when your flesh turns extra crispy and hinders the flow of electricity.

While hindering the flow of electricity sounds like a good thing for someone who is being killed by, well, electricity the primary problem is that by the point your skin begins to char you are probably not in the best shape already. The burns that you will typically suffer during a massive electrocution can cause your flesh to carbonize essentially making you crispier than a burnt piece of bacon. This can be one of the most painful aspects of anyone lucky enough to survive such a massive jolt.

5 It can change your brain!

Most people realize that our brains are pretty fragile things. They are encased in bone all the way around them for a reason after all and we’ve all seen the dangers of our brain on drugs. It should come as no surprise then that during electrocution is not that great for them either.

Electricity has a way of frying a brain faster than that egg in the aforementioned drug warning. However what some people don’t realize is that also like drugs they can alter our brain chemistry.

Lightning strikes are the oldest form of electro death and they are also some of the worst for our brains, certain execution styles notwithstanding. Some of the hardest things to cope with for survivors and their families are the changes in the victims themselves. Personality changes, memory loss, and mood swings are all very common after Zeus uses you as target practice. The reason is because of brain chemistry as certain parts of your brain are damaged and others are altered the chemical demands of your brain are often not met properly. This symptom thankfully usually subsides within a few weeks or months but in rare cases has persisted for life.

4 Heart Failure

Vital organs run on very precise mechanisms within the human body without us so much as thinking about it. Our lungs inhale and exhale our heart beats to a particular rhythm and everything else depends on the blood and oxygen these two provide. When one is thrown off we know it can be fatal.

It is highly possible to be electrocuted and not suffer damage to any major vital organs as the current of will follow the easiest path to something grounded. In addition to avoiding electric shock yourself avoidance of the electrical current passing through the heart is a huge reason to not grab a person by the hand in an attempt to wrest them free from the electrical current. As the current passes through the heart the organ essentially spazzes out and begins to beat and pump off rhythm in a process called fibrillation. Even after removal of the current the fibrillation can continue and lead to an quick demise.

3 Cuts, Concussions, and Broken bones

Electric burns organ mishaps while among the scariest occurrences of being electrocuted they are not the most common injuries suffered during the process. As the current rips through your body and all the electrical process controlling the muscles fire randomly it is not unusual to see a person’s body begin to convulse violently and this is where many people are harmed during such an event.

While your body twitches and jerks from side to side it does not happen in a vacuum and the world around you can do some serious damage. Signs of blunt force trauma over the length of the body are seen in many victims whether it’s from your head slamming hard into the concrete below or you kicking the ground/walls with all your inhuman might and shattering your toes. Broken bones can be extremely painful in the recovery phase as your body cannot stop itself from continuing to spazm and use a broken limb from repeatedly slamming into objects that broke it initially.

2 You can receive a static shock from small electric devices

Everyone has had that uncomfortable sensation of reaching out for a loved one only to be met with a sharp spark of electricity jumping up and shocking them back. For the record it’s ok to blame this person we all do it. However, what we don’t expect is to be static shocked by a harmless insulated device, such as headphones.

The materials in most headphones and speakers are very conducive to the build up of static electricity and thus its users can possibly receive a minor to major electric shock. Even major brands have this issue and warn against defective product on their websites, but in the most dire circumstances the build up and close proximity to your noggin can lead to deathly consequences. One young boy was electrocuted to death when his phone received a jolt of electricity through its charger and continued through the headphone jacks to give his body a jolt that ended his life.

1 Pure electricity can be eaten by some bacteria

Bacteria that Eat Electricity | Washington University

Anyone with any interest in biology can tell you life is a resilient thing. Every corner of the world is filled with microbes of all sorts with all sorts of unique abilities to thrive. Extremophiles can live in ice or even space and we all know about the durability of tardigrades but what most people aren’t aware of is the bacterium and microbes that eat electrons.

In fairly recent studies simply sticking an electrode into the ground can draw the attention of these microbes and they come running to the all they can eat buffet. Scientists, always the bemused bunch then began poking their electrodes in all sorts of places discovering that these bacteria are indeed everywhere, drawing them from out of every place imaginable including solid rock. As of 2015 when the study was initially published there were 8 different bacteria that fed off pure electricity and with this field being studied further there are sure to be more discovered.

fact checked by Jamie Frater