Death by Capacitor?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by cjdelphi, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. cjdelphi

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 26, 2009
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    I Give up, I once ages ago managed to touch something in a circuit which obviously was connected directly to the 300v camera flash... I lived, felt the entry/exit from 1 hand to the other hand, I know, I know, I never died...

    I've been googling for the past 10 minutes or so, and I can't find anything relating to actual death from capacitor discharge, not 1 single news story, am I being retarded?

    Anyone ever read a proven case from death by Capacitor? I'm googled out lol
     
  2. bertus

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    Apr 5, 2008
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  3. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    Think defibrillators.
     
  4. R!f@@

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 2, 2009
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    I don't think average caps used in flashes or house hold item SMPS stores a charge that would but I might be wrong.

    I too have lived to tell the tale on the shivering jolt on cap discharge from flashes to SMPS filter caps more than I can remember.

    Basically I think it is because of the area of contact being too small that we are able to back away u know
     
  5. cjdelphi

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 26, 2009
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    Defib is hardly a capacitor discharging through your body, but, if someone used a Defibrillator on a living person, can you or an expert categorically agree that using one on a perfectly healthy person would kill them?... of course I hope nobody has tried..

    I see the warnings, blah, but has anyone actually died? that's the question.
     
  6. praondevou

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 9, 2011
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    I think it's absolutely possible to die by a capacitor discharge. It all depends on the energy stored in it, i.e. how big they are. Probably not the relatively small caps in an smps, even though it's quite unpleasent to touch them.
    You want an actual article/report of someone who died from such a discharge... Maybe you should ask in a hospital:D
     
  7. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
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    It would be most likely that such a death would be reported somewhat generally as "electrocution" rather than getting so specific as "high voltage, high current discharge from a capacitor"; most people wouldn't want to know the details, and it's doubtful that a reporter would want to risk being incorrect.
     
  8. iONic

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 16, 2007
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    In the right place, under the right conditions, with the right person, even that 300V cap can kill. And since we don't always know if we are the right person under the right conditions, then it is far safer to play it safe then to play roulette.
     
  9. SgtWookie

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    People have even survived being struck by lightning, which is perhaps the ultimate capacitor discharge. However, death is the usual result.

    So, if you see "death by lightning strike", that is in fact a capacitive discharge.
     
  10. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    You have stated it takes 10µa to kill with electricity on another thread, which was incorrect.

    I looked up defibrillators on Wikipedia, early experiments killed many a dog. A little reading goes a long way. Defibrillators can induce fibrillation (or stop the heart altogether) as well as restore normal heart rhythm. It's been mentioned before, but current path of electricity is extremely critical.

    There are quite a few medical procedures that involves stopping the heart. How do you think they do it?
     
  11. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
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    There is no doubt that capacitors can and have killed people by electrocution. As said it comes down to voltage and stored energy. Personally I work on a system which uses a capacitor bank at about one Farad and over a thousand volts. You can bet this could kill you easily.

    Large capacitors can also kill you by exploding or by falling on your head from a sufficient height.
     
  12. praondevou

    AAC Fanatic!

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    LOL... I guess that's true for a lot of things that seem to be harmless.:D
     
  13. steveb

    Senior Member

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    Lol, and a google search may not reveal those accidents either.
     
  14. SgtWookie

    Expert

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    When I was on active duty in the Marines, a fellow technician got 'zapped' with 18kv from our radars' HV power supply. Fortunately, he survived the shock. He did a 1-1/2 back flip into a large galvanized trash can that was behind him. He had no idea how he got in there.
     
  15. rmarotta

    New Member

    Dec 24, 2009
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    It all depends on the circumstances.
    Over the years I have been shocked many times by UNpowered picture tubes while servicing TVs. Even a few jolts from the live 30kv+ flyback power supplies from time to time.
    I'm still here.....
     
  16. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
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    Wow! In the future the Olympic committee may need to ban electric zaps along with performance enhancing drugs.
     
  17. TBayBoy

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    May 25, 2011
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    A doctor filling in the death certificate would use a medical condition as cause of death if possible, so these cases probably are buried under arrhythmia or death by mis-adventure.
     
  18. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
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    When I was a student, I was alone in a lab one night poking my finger in a circuit I was too stupid to figure out that I shouldn't poke. I heard a bang and the next thing I know I was on my back looking up at the fluorescent lights. The bang was the large lab table hitting the ground; my convulsive jerk after touching a high voltage spot caught the table on my thighs and lifted it up off the ground. You should have seen the beautiful bruises on my legs from that. Some lessons from school are more strongly remembered than others. :p
     
  19. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
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    The flash capacitor from a camera does have the ability to kill someone if discharged directly across his/her heart. It could be enough to cause fibrillation, which obviously, can lead to death. Also, if someone has an artificial pacemaker, he or she is at risk from a simple electric shock. It could easily cause the pacemaker to malfunction, trying to defibrillate a heart that is still beating. It could cause a heart attack that would ultimately kill the victim.
    A couple of videos to watch, and I'll let you decide for yourself:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/Photonicinduction#p/u/8/4EdvUZsvvcQ
    http://www.youtube.com/user/Photonicinduction#p/u/1/PiDPKX9ldh8

    Regards,
    Der Strom
     
  20. KMoffett

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 19, 2007
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    Besides the current, timing is very important to electrocution death by heart stoppage. If the current pulse occurs during certain parts of the cardiac cycle it can cause ventricular fibrillation or complete stoppage.

    Ken
     
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