Ohms Will Not Kill You

Amps Will Kill You

A few weeks ago my son and I got off on a digression that led to a nearly two hour debate about which was the killing factor in getting electrocuted. I honestly got so engrossed in the debate I really cannot even recall how the subject came up; but somehow I ended up making the comment, "... it's not the voltage that will kill you, it's the amps," to wit my teenage son was all too eager to correct, stating "... it's not the amps, it is the ohms that is the cause of death in electrocution." Okay, game afoot, please clarify.

Tyler decided that he had been convinced by a former teacher and science textbook that it was in fact the very fact that the human body had a natural resistance (ohms) that made would cause its death should electricity be introduced. Really?

So most assuredly, we "debated" the issue back and forth for some time, swapping analogies, examples and factoids to better make our respective cases... all to no avail; we simply could not agree. Ironically, we really seemed to be talking about the very same thing, but we were looking at it from different perspectives and understanding it from different points of view. But honestly, I really felt we were talking about the same thing and merely using and understanding the definitions on different levels. My position was that the "introduction" of electricity into the body was an unnatural offense to it and the fact that the body has a natural ohm was not the culprit, but the electricity that contained enough amps (0.5 amps by the way is all it takes to kill a human) to kill the individual, while Tyler maintained that the body's ohm resistance being present stopped the electricity from passing through the body and hence rendered it "dead". Hmm... let's think on that a moment; nope, back to arguing!

Communication Failure
After unsuccessful attempts and an hour later trying to prove my case, I did not give up, but I did offer a challenge and reward. I would allow Tyler access to my computer, books and any reference material he could find within an hour and if he could prove me wrong, by an authoritative source, I would give $10 for helping me see the light... sorry, the pun just slipped. However, as a former non-commissioned officer in the Army, I was taught to make use of available resources which I have tried with little success to impart to my children. As such, I felt it only fair to also offer up my phone for the research... "Call your grandfather who spent over 40 years of his life as an electrician, meaning that every single day of his career and the majority of his life, he's had to live or die by the very knowledge which you are seeking." With that, I handed him my phone and walked away to allow him optimal concentration and use of faculties for proving me wrong. Good luck.

Now, I knew the answer, not because of my own education, but from my father who survived life as an (electrical) lineman with the knowledge that a little amp goes a long way. After a few minutes, I re-entered the room to find my son busily typing at the computer researching the Internet looking for any source that would prove him right, and me wrong... and apparently grandpa too!

"What did Grandpa Gordon say?" I asked upon entry to the back of Tyler's slumped over body steadily pecking at the keyboard.

"Amps will kill ya!" and then he hung up, Tyler informed me.

Yep, sounds like grandpa - short, succinct and sure; case closed. Not so fast...

Communication Errors Kill
What started out as an intended correction of the old man to put me in my place, migrated over to a debate, and evolved into an exercise in communication. Again, in essence, we were really talking about the same thing: the amps are the "killing agent" in electrical shock and because of the body's natural resistance, it is almost always a deadly introduction when the two meet. However, we were so headstrong in our positions and being proven right, that we failed to see the common ground that we were standing in - we were talking about the same thing but failing to hear the commonality enabling us to reach an agreement and move forward...

You know, maybe ohms do kill you... if you're too resistant to communication?


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