# Electricity through water can injure a person?

I have maybe a simple question.I would like to know if current can travel through water and can injure a person.

For example as shown below(A little funny picture!!!) a man watering his grass and his garden from rubber tube and his hand is in contact with water(which doesn't appears in the followning picture but we can make this assumption).Also in garden there is nearby a worn cable and has a high current leak.So when this man throw water by mistake on this cable, can be electrocuted?Can current travel through water and injure this man?

• Various stories of boyscouts out hiking, stopping to "void their bladders" onto electric fence wires that have fallen to the ground. The responsible scout then also fell to the ground. – analogsystemsrf May 3 '17 at 12:20
• In my kitchen, when I turn on the faucet and put my hands in the water, sometimes I get a shock. I think it might be from walking on carpet with slippers but the concept is the same. I haven't had a chance to look into this yet and, no, it's not an electrical issue. – Rob May 3 '17 at 13:52
• @Rob Pipework is usually earthed (otherwise you could get quite a nasty shock from touching the microwave and the tap at the same time), so I suppose it's the same principle as getting a shock from touching an earthed metal appliance after building up a static charge. – Muzer May 3 '17 at 16:34
• The simple answer is yes current may flow but injury would be rare in the described situation. Other situations are more dangerous. – KalleMP May 3 '17 at 16:54
• Thank you so much KalleMP, Muzer, Rob, analogsystemsrf I really appreciate your help.Very interesting what you mentioned – elecV1 May 3 '17 at 20:33

I do remember MythBusters asking a similar question: can urinating on a live track on a railway kill a man.

First question is how the water is travelling: if it is anything other than a continuous, unbroken stream, there is no conductive path, and so there will be path for the electrons, and so no electric shock. If we assume that the stream is continuous, then, as water can conduct (depending on your water, conductivity varies), we have a path due to water.

Then we need to work out how the electricity will complete the loop. The man is one part, the water is another, but the electricity is trying to flow somewhere. If the man (woman or non-gendered entity) is insulated from the "somewhere" you have no reason for them to get shocked. On the other hand, if they're barefoot on damp ground, they could well conduct to ground.

So the answer is: yes, if there is an unbroken path. Which is a pretty fundamental rule in electronics.

• Even if there is not an unbroken path. The reduced distances caused by the separated portions of the stream may small enough to allow arcing without being an unbroken path. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_arc I would figure that you would get more range out of this: youtube.com/watch?v=_fTC_Ud_k3U even with a broken stream of conductive fluid. – ttbek May 3 '17 at 13:46
• Trevor: interestingly, on the arc wiki page, the first female member or the IEE, unfortunately not allowed to present before the Royal Society. – ttbek May 3 '17 at 13:48
• Death by electric arc through pee, that's horrifying. – Wesley Lee May 3 '17 at 18:31

For your example the current would have to have a path that led through your hand to your feet. Say you tried to put out an electrical fire from a downed line, and you used a watering hose? with enough water on you and your shoes, you could become the preferred connection to ground and be electrocuted. This is certainly the case with a HV distribution line. 240VAC may or may not have the potential to flow through the water, but 8KV certainly will.

Can you get electrocuted with water? Absolutely. It's under-reported, and many of the strong swimmer drownings near docks may have been caused by electric shock from faulty wiring.

http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/magazine/2013/july/electric-shock-drowning-explained.asp

It's a freshwater problem, as saltwater has greater conductivity than a human body and will dissipate the current more readily. (not 100%, but it happens less in the ocean)

The Mythbusters episode is a poor example. Fence chargers are a 4-12KV impulse every few seconds, and are current limited. I don't believe they tried the experiment in a comprehensive manner. EN-60601-1 Leakage testing would be a better methodology.

Yes.

Electro Shock Drowning (ESD) is a big problem where docks are not wired properly. Many people have died recently because of ESD. In 2012 there were seven deaths from ESD.

This has been documented extensively by BoatUS.

http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/assets/pdf/esd-what-you-need-to-know-presentation.pdf

http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/ESD.asp

Can current travel through water and injure this man?

Yes. That basically the risk utilities warn people to stay away from downed power line for: stray voltage.

Large animals like cows suffer from this risk as well.

It is also one of the means that lightning kills people: stray voltage caused by ground potential rise (GPR). GPR here acts like a downed power line. With very high potential.

I also think it unlikely in this scenario that much current would flow up the water path from a cable that is already on the ground.

Even with a continuous stream, the shortest circuit path would be the millimeter or so from the cable to the surrounding soil.

The gardener might still die from a heart attack caused by the shock of seeing the nice sparks and smoke coming from his tulips though.

• Worms would be far more distressed than the waterer. Any water appropriate for gardening would have high resistivity, posing small risk. Urine, containing ions would be far riskier, but truth-be-told, haven't measured urine conductivity. Water on/in the ground might be somewhere mid-risk. – glen_geek May 3 '17 at 13:41

Yes! Many liquids conduct electricity, and if there is a circuit/continuous stream, you can get a shock. Arguably even if the stream isn't quite continuous/unbroken, if there is enough power, you can still potentially get a jolt, because electricity can arc across small air gaps.

Edit: I might add "large air gaps too" eg lightning, but I think we're generally referring to man generated electricity, which rarely reaches those sorts of magnitudes.