In the February 2018 Q&A
column, the incorrect schematic
was used in Figure 4. Here is
the correct diagram. We
apologize for any
Don’t Get Zapped!
I really enjoyed Ward
Silver’s recent column on high
voltage and safety. However,
there is a dangerously incorrect
statement: "Better yet, the path
from a hand to a foot doesn't go through the heart."
The hand to foot path most certainly DOES go
through the heart — particularly when it’s from one hand
to the opposite foot!!! See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Furthermore, I have been taught and I believe that the
hand to hand path — while certainly dangerous — is not
necessarily the most dangerous. I have been taught (and it
is intuitive) that the most dangerous path is from one hand
to the other foot. This is born out from the following
reference (Section 6. 5 seems to be publicly accessible).
(Search was "electrical shock hand to hand vs. hand to
So, while the classic "hand in the pocket" advice is
certainly good, it is also critical that the feet and legs be
insulated as well.
I strongly urge a correction be published of the
erroneous statement that "Better yet, the path from a hand
to a foot doesn't go through the heart" as it is dangerously
You're right, of course, that there is a path through the
heart between the hand and foot. I probably should have
written that as "doesn't go directly through the heart." I
don't think there are any truly safe current paths through
the body. I've put a note on the N&V website for the article
and to remind folks to keep their feet insulated, too. Thanks
for the feedback!
Ward Silver N0AX
NEW PV Jr.
Mini Circuit Board Holder
8 May/June 2018