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Ask an Expert – Kids 2021-02-14T22:40:58+00:00
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If you touch someone who is in contact with an electricity source, electricity will travel through you as well. You could be seriously injured or even killed! Do NOT touch the person or anything he or she is touching. Instead, stay far away, tell an adult to turn off the power at the fuse box or circuit breaker, and call 911 for help.

Answer: Small birds can sit safely on one power line and not get shocked because the electricity is always looking for a way to get to the ground. If the birds are not touching the ground or anything in contact with the ground, electricity will stay in the power line and won’t harm the birds. However, birds with broad wingspans are more likely to touch a power line and pole at the same time, which can create a path for electricity to travel down the pole to the ground. Their large wings can also bridge two power lines, creating a circuit or a path for electricity. In either situation, the birds can be electrocuted.

Answer: Yes, the human body is a good conductor of electricity because it is 60-70% water.  This means that if you touch electricity, electricity will flow through you, and you will be badly hurt.

Answer: Many of our daily activities require electricity, such as lighting our homes; cooking with a toaster oven, range, or microwave; keeping food cold with a refrigerator; washing clothes; using a computer; watching TV; and charging our devices.  Electricity  powers our modern lives!

Answer: Multiple people have contributed to the discovery of electricity in modern times, starting with Englishman William Gilbert in 1600 AD, who gave the Latin term electricus to the electric effect of amber. This term was derived from the ancient Greek word for amber, which was elektron. The word electricity itself first appeared in print in a book written by Sir Thomas Browne in 1646.  In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin performed many experiments to learn more about electricity and its connection to lightning. Finally, in 1800, Allesandro Volta created one of the first electric batteries!

Answer: A good question, and you’re not the first person to ask it! Most electricity in this country is made (or produced) at power plants where fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) or renewable energy sources (such as water, wind, biomass, or geothermal) are used to turn turbines. The turbines turn electromagnets that are surrounded by heavy coils of copper wire. The moving magnets cause the electrons in the copper wire to move from atom to atom, generating electricity. Electricity can also be produced from sunshine, using special panels that convert sunlight into electricity. You can see these panels on the rooftops of many Southern California homes, businesses, and warehouses.

Answer: Lightning travels at a speed of 220,000 miles per hour, so if you can’t beat that, then unfortunately, you can’t outrun lightning. Lightning can be deadly. Reduce the chances of being struck while indoors by not touching windows, plumbing, metal objects, or electronics during a lightning storm. If you’re outside, get indoors when a storm is approaching. Read about what to do if you can’t get to shelter on our website here.  And read about one lucky lightning shock survivor’s tale on our website here.

Answer: It takes a LOT of watts to power a factory!  Electricity use for factories is measured in megawatts, which are units of one million watts. An integrated cement plant can use 650 megawatts. Other types of factories may use much more electricity or much less, depending on their size, production load, and other factors.

Answer: Plastic does indeed help prevent electric shocks. For example, on our home appliances and power cords, special insulating plastic keeps us from contacting the electricity inside. If this plastic becomes damaged in any way, you risk coming in contact with a bare electrical wire, which could cause shock and injury. That’s why you should always report a damaged cord or appliance to an adult.

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