What happens if you touch 1 prong with 1 finger, and the other prong with another?

Thread Starter


Joined Mar 14, 2012
Will you die immediately if you use 1 finger to touch 1 prong of the live plug, and another finger (on the other hand) to touch the other prong?

Say there is a live plug with two prongs in a north american outlet. If you use one finger to touch one prong of the plug, you feel nothing, However, if you use two fingers on the SAME HAND to touch both prongs of the plug, you get a slight shock but you can still pull away. What happens if you use one finger on your right hand to touch one prong, and one finger of your left hand to touch another prong of the same plug? Will you die immediately within a second? I assume you will complete a circuit (from the wall, to one finger, through your body, out the other finger)?

a) Will you have time to pull away?
b) How come you don't feel any shock when you touch one prong of the live plug?

Bonus question: c) the electrical outlet has three holes, two rectangular, one circular in the middle (ground). imagine you plugged a 2 prong plug of a vacuum cleaner (or any other machine) into the two top rectangular holes. what happens if you stick a fork or some metal object in the ground (middle) bottom hole? will anything happen?

THANK YOU So much. Your help and detailed answers mean a lot to me. More than you know!


Joined Apr 3, 2009
why would you want to touch an outlet? YES, 110 volts from hand to hand will hurt. It has happened to me. it only takes lower double digit milliamps across your heart to cause defibrilation. if you touch with your finger you can pull away. but if you grip your palm across the wire it may be a different story. everyone has different resistances in there skin, so one person may have a different story to tell than someone else. the round hole is ground so if you stick something in it nothing will happen, unless you complete a circuit from the hot to the ground, because the ground is at neutral potential. If you are this inexperienced with simple househole wiring, please dont 'experiment' with it.


Joined Jul 9, 2011
Are you planning to build a torturing device?
Why these detailed questions?

There is no point in playing around with live voltage and yes it can instantly kill you depending on various factors that influence the current through your body like skin resistance, physical condiction, duration of current.

Look here for some current thresholds and it's effects: http://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/showpost.php?p=380981&postcount=10

110VAC will cause a very unpleasant feeling/current flowing through your body. If you die or not cannot be answered here.


Joined Jan 5, 2012
Two hands is much worse since electricity will need to make a circuit and said circuit might well pass through your heart.

A) Maybe you'd have time to pull away, maybe you wouldn't. Touching with a fingertip (or back of the hand) is probably safer than gripping with your hand since electricity can cause muscle contractions making it impossible to let go, but touching with the fingertip is still not safe by any means. That's what multimeters are for.

B) It depends on whether you're grounded or not. If you're standing on an insulated mat, touching the hot plug shouldn't do anything since you're not completing a circuit. That said, I wouldn't even think about doing it.

C) With the ground plug unused while something is plugged into the hot/neutral plugs and operating, nothing should happen (but I still wouldn't try it).

Mains is no joke.
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Thread Starter


Joined Mar 14, 2012
Thanks everyone. No, I'm not going to experiment or build a torturing device. That's why I'm asking these questions instead. I have OCD and obsess about things I do not understand, it causes me severe anxiety until I find out the answer. I'm not a criminal no ;) and thanks for letting me know what the darwin award is!