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I went to put out 2 light switches at the same time and got an electric shock from both of them. I'm just wondering whether this was static as I was sorting laundry from the tumble dryer or a more serious problem. I have kids and I'm petrified incase they get a shock from them too. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

  • If you got a shock, but it didn't trip a breaker, it may have been static. Unfortunately your options might be, 'try again' or 'call an electrician'. Both are potentially painful. – BrownRedHawk Feb 13 '15 at 21:42
  • Was there a snapping or cracking sound, accompanied by a flash (which may have only been visible is a dimly lit room)? Or did you feel a tingle or twinge shoot up your arm? – Tester101 Feb 13 '15 at 21:57
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    @BrownRedHawk: circuit breakers are not electrocution safety devices, it would take a huge amount of current to trip one with a short-duration shock. Unless the shock lasted several seconds or was hundreds of amps I wouldn't expect the breaker to trip. I'm not sure the breaker tells us anything about the situation. – Hank Feb 13 '15 at 22:21
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If you got shocked twice in a row without moving, that doesn't sound like static electricity. But if you mean you touched them both together and got shocked, or you came back later and got shocked again, that could be static electricity. But based on the circumstances (dry winter air, doing laundry) it seems much more likely it was static electricity.

Frankly, unless your hands were dripping wet or you recently changed the wiring, I would be pretty surprised if you got shocked by a light switch. If you want to check, try turning the lights on and off with something nonmetallic, like a wooden spoon. If the lights turn on and off normally, I think it's unlikely there's an electrical issue (though not impossible). The best way to tell whether the switch itself is electrified is with a multimeter (about $20 for a cheap one at a big box store).

  • The more I think about it I think I had switched off one and put my hand up to switch the other one at the same time but I don't think I came into contact with it. I got a jolt up both arms. My partner has since switched them both on and off and he's not had a shock. – alibali Feb 13 '15 at 22:26
  • @alibali if you touched both at the same time and got a shock, it is possible there is a fault that might not shock you if only touching one, but can if touching both. Since such shocks would run between each arm and potentially though your heart that could be quite dangerous. – Grant Feb 14 '15 at 15:30

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