Electrical Safety Basics

Like many things in the world, our bodies are significantly affected by electricity. Our muscles are stimulated by electrical currents generated from electrochemical reactions within our bodies that are typically initiated and governed by our nervous systems.

Unfortunately, because our muscles use electricity to move, they can be susceptible to stimulation from outside of our body as well. This can cause unintentional muscle contractions, temporary paralysis, or (on a more systemic scale) even death if the muscle that begins contracting unintentionally is the heart.

However, we can largely avoid and/or prevent dangerous circumstances from developing by following simple safety precautions.

  1. Never touch, interact with, or work on active electrical circuits. Always ensure the voltage source has been unplugged from a power source or disconnected in some other way beforehand.
    In the case of circuits with capacitors, always allow time for the capacitors to fully discharge before interacting with or touching the circuit.
    If you are unsure, you may use a multimeter to test the circuit before you begin work on it.
  2. Properly discharge yourself and your circuit before touching it to prevent possible damage from static electricity discharges.
  3. Use the proper protective equipment. Safety glasses can protect your eyes from potential sparks or blown capacitors. Gloves can help insulate you from shock, but they should be specifically listed and approved for the voltages you are working with.
  4. Use the correctly sized/rated components when building or replacing circuits. Always err on the side of caution when selecting components to account for overages you may not have anticipated (especially among inrush currents with inductive loads)
  5. Keep electrically conductive fluids (most fluids) away from active circuits and do not work on or interact with electric circuits with wet hands or clothing.