ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Get Killed Using a 12-Volt Car Battery

Updated on April 27, 2015

Standard 12 Volt Battery

Can a 12 volt car battery kill?
Can a 12 volt car battery kill? | Source

Ohm's Law

A professor at my father's mid-west university told the unfortunate story about a bet between his students that a regular 12-volt car battery could not kill a person. A sad lesson in Ohm's law proved that this was not true, that indeed one can be killed by the current from a 12-volt battery.

What is Ohm's law? I=V/R or current equals voltage divided by resistance.

I, like many people being too quick to remove or add jumper cables to a car to charge another's battery have had a shock from a 12-volt battery by shorting the battery out, say to the car's chassis. These batteries are STRONG in amperage, although low in voltage.

Sparks occur, but In my case, with regular dry skin, the R in I=V/R was pretty high. Skin provides several kilo-ohms of resistance. Thus, the current, I, was pretty low but very noticeable! So what conditions could possibly kill a person with a 12-volt car battery?

The following video demos a person touching the poles of a car battery with no problem. The video's author also questions whether there is any way to get shocked enough to be killed. Please note the sparks, however, that result when you incorrectly jump another car battery.

Resistance Demo with a Car Battery - 12v

What Happens when Resistance Gets Too Low

Dad's professor noted the details of this experiment to see if a 12-volt car battery could not ever actually kill a person. Sadly, a student went on to test this with a contrived test.

Recall that current = voltage/resistance. Many of us remember that when dividing anything by zero results in infinity. So what this unfortunate student did was create conditions in which the resistance approached zero.

He set up the "experiment" as follows:

  • Two metal pans were used in which to make the connection to his hands
  • The pans were filled with salt water to lower the resistance
  • He plunged his hands in the salt water pans to make connection the the leads of the battery.

Dad's professor claimed that his alone would not have created resistance low enough to approach zero, thus making the current approach infinity. Recall that not voltage, but amperage is the danger in electronic experiments.

Anyway, the student plunged his hands into the brine water contained in the two metal containers hooked up to the 12-volt battery. He instantly fell over dead!

Upon autopsy, it was found that the student's hands were covered with deep scratches going far beneath the epidermis (skin) into the layers of sub-skin and even the tissues of the hands. In this case, the approximately 2K resistance of the skin was bypassed to practically zero.

So the amperage shot up to an amount approaching infinity and was the culprit of the death.

Experiments Involving Electricity

It is wise to really think through any experiments involving electricity!

Another point is that DC or direct current causes the muscles to act in a tightening way, while AC or alternating current causes a sort of vibration. This is why so many linemen working on high voltage AC lines get thrown back if they make a dreaded connection. Alternatively, DC voltage that is too high causes the muscles to tighten into a grip.

I have not tested the pain of these various kinds of voltages voluntarily, but you can see them in the following video:

The Pain of Electricity (AC versus DC)

Conclusion

I conclude that it is rather foolish to underestimate the power of electricity, either AC or DC. Why risk one's life, let alone life over such crazy experiments.

You mileage may vary, so please comment!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      How to Get Killed Using a 12-Volt Car Battery, great hub informative nad useful indeed

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      I just take the position that since I know nothing about cars or anything in them, I don't touch anything! Crazy experiment.

    • Laura in Denver profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Deibel 

      5 years ago from Aurora

      It's OK to handle them, but as designed, not in this crazy way! Thanks!

    • starbright profile image

      Lucy Jones 

      5 years ago from Scandinavia

      Thanks for sharing. Very interesting and I'll remember not to play around with 12-volt car batteries.

      Voted up and shared.

    • Laura in Denver profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Deibel 

      5 years ago from Aurora

      Some seemingly benign experiments have often gone awry. Still, there is not much to explain this lethal test...

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      Wow! I didn't know anything about the voltage, but for goodness sake, why oh why did he try that so called experiment? some people just don't think before they act, this was fascinating, and really useful info, thanks! voted up and shared, nell

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)