Preventing Electrical Death in Monsoon

Dr  K K Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
Do not use 2 pin electrical appliances: they can be dangerous
In countries like India where 2–pin electrical appliances are still used, it is common to see 3–5 people dying every day due to electrocution in major cities. Most of these deaths are preventable. Like fire, electricity is a good servant but a bad master. 
Even if an electrical death occurs an electrocuted dead body can be revived within 10 minutes by using the conventional principles of cardiopulmonary resuscitation using the Formula of 10 where within 10 minutes of cardiac death for the next 10 minutes, compress the heart of that person at a speed of 100 per minute. Obviously, first the electrical source needs to be disconnected.
Most deaths in India are due to misuse of earthing. In India, earthing can be procured either from the city source or made indigenously at home by digging a deep hole in the earth.
Follow these Dos and Don’ts about earthing to prevent electrocution deaths:
  1. Earthing is a thick wire attached to the top hole of a 3–pin electrical socket.
  2. In any electrical circuit, green wire is for earthing, black for neutral and red for live wire. Earthing lead by convention is kept green so that it can be identified easily.
  3. Normal electricity is generated when the live wire is connected to the neutral wire. Live with earth wire will also give the electrical current. There will be no current when the earth wire is connected to the neutral wire.
  4. Earthing is a safety outlet, which allows leaking electricity to be conducted away harmlessly and not through the body.
  5. Earthing needs to be checked every 6 months because it deteriorates with time and weather, particularly during the rainy season. A check can be carried out using an ordinary tester on the body of the appliance.
  6. A test lamp can also check that earthing is proper. One can light bulb with live and earth wire. If the bulb fails to light while connecting live and earth socket it means the earthing is defective.
  7. People tend to take earthing lightly and often misuse it.
  8. Live and earth wires are sometimes untied together for temporary connection, which can be dangerous to life.
Following are the general precautions, which people should take to prevent electrical hazards:
  1. Make sure that you have proper earthing connection in the house.
  2. Always remember the green wire, without it, do not use any electrical appliances especially if it is touching any water surface. Water enhances conductivity; extra precautions therefore should be taken, while handling appliances, under wet conditions.
  3. 2–pin plugs with no earthing arrangements should not be used and in fact should be banned.
  4. While using 3–pin plugs, make sure all 3 wires are connected and the pins are not defective.
  5. Do not use matchsticks to hold wires in the socket.
  6. Do not touch any wire without ensuring that power supply is switched off.
  7. Do not use the earth wire to replace the neutral wire.
  8. All joint wires should be properly insulated with proper insulated tapes and not with sellotape or Band–Aids.
  9. Before using geyser water, it should be switched off.
  10. Do not use heater plates with exposed wire for cooking purpose.
  11. Use dry rubber slipper at home.
  12. Use mini circuit breaker (MCB) and earth leak circuit breaker (ELCB) facilities at home.
  13. Metallic electrical appliance should not be kept near a water tap.
  14. Using rubber mats and rubber leggings in the desert cooler stand can insulate electrical appliance.
  15. Use only recommended resistance wires and fuses.
  16. Earthing should be checked every 6 months.
  17. Any ordinary tester can check the presence of leaking electricity.
  18. Wrap cloth around the handle of the refrigerator
  19. Read the set of instructions attached with every electrical appliance.
  20. Accidental electric deaths occur more often in India due to the use of 220 V than in the US, where 110V is used.
  21. AC current is more dangerous than DC. An AC current of more than 10 MA causes tetanic muscular contractions making it impossible for a hand grasping an energized object, to free itself.
In case of electrocution, proper resuscitation is necessary. The mains should be switched off or wires disconnected using a wooden material and cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be started immediately. In a clinically dead patient, a thump in the center of the chest from a distance of one foot may alone revive a person.
In severe electrocution, clinical deaths occur within 4–5 min., therefore time to act is limited. Do not wait for the victim to be taken to the hospital. Act there and then.