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This question already has an answer here:

An electric circuit is considered a closed circuit if there are two wires connecting to a load, namely live wire and neutral wire. Therefore someone would get electrocuted by touching live wire or neutral wire. However some technicians said that it's safe to touch neutral wire because it contains no electricity, is it true?

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marked as duplicate by PeterJ, Daniel Grillo, Dave Tweed Apr 6 '16 at 13:41

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is only an important distinction if you know with 100% certainty that someone didn't mistakenly swap the connections on the other side of the cable. Always assume that both live and neutral can be hot, unless you've measured everything. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Apr 6 '16 at 11:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Electricity is a phenomenon. A wire cannot contain it (or not contain it for that matter). \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev Apr 6 '16 at 11:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DG , Then you should not be using wires at your place. Try that, see how it works. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Spriggs Apr 6 '16 at 12:42
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Neutral wire is generally at a voltage round about earth potential so touching the neutral wire only causes a minute current to flow through your body hence you barely have any sensation of shock at all.

The current flow through both wires is the same but that current does not flow through you when you touch a wire unless you represent a significantly lower impedance than the load.

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Earth and neutral are connected somewhere, depending on your local infrastructure. So touching a live wire and earth closes the circuit and current can flow through you. Touching neutral and earth does nothing, because it's the same potential anyway (aside from minor side effects) So touching neutral is save under normal cirumstances. You should not rely on circumstances being normal.

Some possible faults are:

  1. A cable break on neutral after your touching point. The neutral line is now connected to live via any load.

  2. Someone swapped live and neutral and the colours now don't mean what you think they do.

  3. There is a very high return current lifting the potential of the neutral line

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