Answer: A conductor is a substance that electricity can flow through easily. Water is a conductor because it contains dissolved ions, which are atoms or molecules that can carry an electrical charge.
Water with more ions conducts electricity better than water with fewer ions. Salt water is loaded with sodium and chloride ions, making it a better conductor than fresh water, which has fewer ions. (Fresh water will conduct electricity, just not as well as salt water.)
Answer: First, a little background for you and our other readers: In everyday use, electricity typically refers to electrically charged particles, called electrons, moving through metal wires. This flow of electricity is called current. Most metals conduct electricity, and metals like copper, silver, aluminum, brass, gold and steel are especially good conductors of electricity because they let current flow through them easily. Water is another good conductor of electricity; because your body is mostly water, you are a great conductor, too! That’s why it’s so important to use electricity safely and avoid contacting electrical current. You can learn how to do this by visiting the Electrical Safety-SMART! section of this website: https://sce.e-smartkids.com/electrical-safety/.
Answer: Yes, the human body is a good conductor of electricity! This is because our bodies are 60–70% water, and water is an excellent conductor. Since the water in our bodies can help electricity flow through us, we need to be extremely careful not to contact electricity. It is important not to touch water, or anything in contact with the water when a downed power line is nearby. You can read more here about how electricity and water—and our bodies—make a dangerous combination, and some tips for staying safe.
Answer: Plastic does not conduct electricity as easily as water and metal do. However, a plastic object that contacts a power line could become energized with electricity and even catch fire if the voltage in the line is high enough. For this reason, it’s important to keep all objects (including those made of plastic) far away from power lines.
Answer: Because I am an electrical safety expert, Leon, when I think of “up,” I think of overhead electric power lines and how to be safe around them. Anything that contacts a power line can cause a fire or electrical outage, so always keep balloons, kites, drones, and other flying toys far away from overhead lines. And to avoid a serious (or even fatal) electrical shock, be sure to keep your own body far away from power lines too! If you want to learn more about power line safety, visit this link: sce.e-smartkids.com/electrical-safety
Answer: Electricity travels at the speed of light, which is about 186,000 miles per second. So, unless you’ve got shoes with superpowers, electricity would beat you hands down in a race. Because you can’t move faster than electricity, it’s important to always stay out of its way, including staying away from downed power lines. Learn more about the dangers of coming into contact with electricity and how you can stay safe here.
Answer: When a metallic balloon contacts a power line, electricity can arc across the balloon and create a large flash. This can cause a short circuit that burns wires and causes power outages. These balloons should always be tied to a weight and never released outdoors. If you see a metallic balloon near a power line or stuck in a tree, please report it to SCE by calling 1-800-611-1911.
Answer: The situation that you are asking about is quite rare, Diego! Power lines are firmly connected to the utility poles that support them and are unlikely to fall directly on top of people. It takes a very strong wind and/or serious damage to a utility pole to knock a power line down. (That’s why you should always be alert for fallen power lines during and after windstorms.) You should never approach or touch anyone or anything in contact with a downed power line. Call 911.
In the unlikely event that a power line comes down on or near you, you should shuffle far away from the line with small steps, always keeping your feet close together and on the ground. Warn other people to stay away from the line and ask them to call 911 and the local electric utility for help.
Answer: Carbon is a chemical element with the symbol C and atomic number 6. It is the second most abundant element in the human body. Every single organic molecule in your body contains carbon. It is the basis of life and energy itself.
All plants and living creatures are formed by organic compounds where carbon is combined with hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and other elements.
Carbon makes up about 0.025 percent of the Earth’s crust. Carbon is also in the sun, stars, comets and the atmospheres of most planets.
Carbon moves from place to place as part of the carbon cycle. For instance, when we breathe, we exhale carbon dioxide. Plants take in that carbon dioxide to grow, which removes it from the atmosphere. A balance of carbon in the atmosphere is needed to have a hospitable living environment on Earth.
When plants and animals die and decompose, sediment containing carbon is formed. Some of this sediment becomes fossil fuels, such as coal, oil or natural gas. When fossil fuels are burned, they release carbon-emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. According to scientists, the burning of fossil fuels is upsetting the atmosphere’s carbon balance, leading to extreme weather and climate change.