What are some causes of electrocution?


Quick Answer

Causes of electrocution include accidental exposure to electrical wires due to mishandling of electrical equipment and direct shocks caused by weather conditions, via lightning bolts. The definition of electrocution is death by way of accidental or deliberate exposure to an electrical shock.

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Full Answer

The word "electrocution" comes from the combination of the phrase electric execution, making the word a portmanteau. Although it was originally only used to refer to death by way of electric chair, in judicial settings, it eventually came into use for any death caused by sufficient electrical shock.

Electrocution can happen with any electrical current strong enough to stop the natural rhythm of the heart. Many factors can determine how powerful an electrical shock has to be to stop the heart, including the path it takes through the body and the moisture present on the skin at the time. If the shock travels from one point to another without passing through the heart, it is less likely to cause a complete stop. Electrical shock to the brain is also lethal, due to the interruption of the electrical function of the cells within.

Execution by electric chair, the earliest known instance where the word electrocution was used, came into use around 1890. The first death by electric chair was William Kemmler, on Aug. 6, 1890.

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