Questions about electronic safety

Thread Starter


Joined Nov 23, 2011
1) Why would putting a paperclip in a 110 outlet burn your fingers and/or shock you? Isn't the resistance of your body and fingers very high compared to the resistance of the paperclip, and the short between the two terminals?

2) Why can power line techs wear thick gloves and boots made of insulator, to protect them from high-voltage lines? Won't the dielectric in the boots and gloves simply form a capacitor with the skin and wire as the plates?



Joined Jan 28, 2011
(1) Think of your body as a 25 ohm 1/4 watt resistor not rated for continuous duty for the first microsecond or so of contact. The current then has access to nerves, ligaments, muscles and all kinds of other conductors. ZZZZAP !!
(2) Linemen wear the gloves and boots to give them a fighting chance if they come in contact with a live terminal by accident. They use special equipment if they actually have to touch a live wire in the normal course of business.


Joined Mar 14, 2008
1) The paperclip will conduct a very high current until the breaker blows. This could heat the clip to the point where it will burn the skin. If you plug the clip into the neutral side first, you probably won't feel a shock. If you plug into the hot side first, you will.

2) The capacitance of the boots and gloves is not high enough to transmit a lethal current.