My first experience with an electric shock of 230V AC was particularly enlightening. In New Zealand, we don't pussy around with 110V, we go all the way and light up our electrical equipment with all the juice they can take. So it was, that I was checking a fuse and got one hell of a jolt. The following describes the event in minute detail for those of you who haven't experienced the joy of 230V AC surging through their bodies.

The dishwasher decided to pack it in, and before I started ringing around for a $50/hr electrician to come in, I thought I'd check the fuses first. The fusebox was downstairs in the garage so I took the cover off and started looking, expecting a large red light to be blinking on the blown fuse, or some kind of klaxon to be sounding, any sign that perhaps it was a fuse.

With no outward sign of the problem, I decided it was time to delve further. Unfortunately the fuses aren't the easy-to-use or understand, trip-switch type. Instead, they are ceramic blocks with two metal terminals which a piece of fuse wire is wound around to complete a circuit.

I gripped one fuse and pulled, and it popped out. Upon inspection I found it to be intact, so replaced it and grasped the next. It wouldn't budge, so I grabbed it by the top and bottom, with one hand. As it came out, my thumb and forefinger must have wrapped around the ends and touched the two terminals.


I dropped the fuse and jumped up and down trying to shake off the sudden blow. The feeling was like somebody smashing me in the chest with a pillow stuffed with ball bearings. I shook my hand that was holding the fuse. A heavy tingling remained in my entire arm, and I was breathing hard, as if I had just finished 30 laps of the block. My heart was pounding and felt more like a vibration in my chest than a regular beat, it was going so quickly. I shook my head to try and clear it and assess what was going on. I knew I had been shocked, but needed to try and assess if the danger was over yet or not. Concluding that I had stuffed up taking the fuse out, I was still very wary of touching the fuse that was now lying on the ground nearby. My logical sense told me it was not the fuse that had zapped me, by my still confused and stunned mind was not letting me back near it again.

Suffice to say, I got the fuse back in again without further incident and went back upstairs to call a sparky. Thinking back now, it was quite a thrill to receive a jolt like that directly from the main feed into the house, and be able to relive it here in text for you all to share.

Please don't stick metal objects into sockets to verify my account - simply drop a plugged in hairdryer into the bath next time you take one. Far simpler, and no chance of damaging the electrical sockets.

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