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Can a child get a shock from putting a key or screwdriver into a wall outlet?

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2015-07-15 21:47:04
2015-07-15 21:47:04

Certainly. This is why the US 2008 NEC requires "Tamper Resistant" receptacles to be installed. These receptacles attempt to prevent foreign objects being inserted into the slots. A normal plug will press into all slots at once, resulting in normal connection to the outlet. If a child attempts to put something into one slot, there is a guard blocking the slot.

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If the child was grounded (i.e. with one finger in the "ground" prong of the outlet), he would be even more electrically conductive since part of his body is near ground voltage.

If the child is holding a metal key or a metallic screwdriver, most definitely yes.

Even the "neutral" side of the outlet is not necessarily at the same voltage as the earth the child is standing on. Children are even more at risk because they are more likely to have sweat or other conductive compounds on their hands to decrease their electrical resistance.

IMPORTANT!! It only take a tenth of an amp to cause death. A study of body resistances several years ago found resistances in some people so low that a mere 30 volts could cause 0.1 amp to go through the body. If you have children in the house, I recommend that you have outlet protectors inserted into the outlets.

The phrase "electrical shock hazard" means that there is a risk of electrical shock.

Residential electrical receptacles are by design inherently safe from the occasional paper clip, screwdriver, etc. poke-in from our average kids. Most homes built after 1984 in the US have 2 "blade" prongs and one "rounded" prong. Each prong has a specific function: the "blade" prongs provide the ability for current transfer, to a device, or to a person. Both of these blades must be touched simultaneously to power a device, or produce an electrical shock.

Additionally, touching the "line" blade and the "ground" (rounded) blade can also produce current transfer and hence an electrical shock. Of the line and neutral blades, the neutral blade can be identified as the larger of the two.

Homes built before 1984 typically do not have the ground (rounded) blade and the two straight blades are commonly the same size.

Troubleshooting electrical problems in one of these homes is best left to a licensed professional.

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