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How Not To Get an Electric Shock

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

I was changing out a fluorescent light fixture ballast and I got shocked…

Simple Precaution Prevents Electric Shock

Question: I was changing out a fluorescent light fixture ballast from magnetic to electronic. I removed the neutral first then went to disconnect the hot, I got shocked when I touched the insulated and spliced wires. I’m not sure how this happened, my guess is the ballast was working like an auto transformer and the insulation was not strong enough to stop the electrical charge but I’ve never seen this before, am I close?

This electrical question came from: Dennis, from Kelowna, Canada

See more about Home Wiring for Canada

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Dennis
How to Prevent Getting an Electric Shock
Dennis, the best way to not get an electrical shock is to positively identify the circuit and TURN OFF THE CIRCUIT BREAKER, or at least turn off the light switch.
Yes, as a experienced electrician I have learned how to work with live wires, however I DO NOT ADVISE ANYONE TO EVER WORK WITH LIVE ELECTRICAL WIRES.

Dennis, the biggest mistake that you made was to work on the wires while the electricity was on, the next BIG Mistake was to leave the hot connected to the ballast. If an electrician must work the circuit live, in the case of replacing a lighting ballast, they will always remove and insulate the live feed FIRST. Electricity will always look for the least path of resistance to ground to complete the circuit and unfortunately you were part of that path, most likely part of you became grounded, and the secondary side of a lighting ballast will be a higher voltage, depending on the ballast, and can pack quite a wallop.

The Best Way To Prevent Electrical Shock
Seriously consider hiring a Licensed Qualified Electrical Contractor to assist you with your home electrical wiring project.

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