17-year-old Dead after Tweeting in the Bathtub



  •  This is very sad, but also an unbelieveable WTF.

     http://bit.ly/xLdWA

    I can just imagine:

    BathChick: @twitter yeah i sa--NO CARRIER--







  • The headline sounds a lot more interesting than the actual story.

    TRWTF is that soon the US Congress will mandate warnings on all computers to avoid using in the bathtub, just like for hairdryers.



  • @boomzilla said:

    TRWTF is that soon the US Congress will mandate warnings on all computers to avoid using in the bathtub, just like for hairdryers.

    Raising the question: Who is more anti-evolution, the pro-creationist Republicans or the Democrats who mandate things like this?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Saw this a few days ago and it actually kind of bothers me. A laptop should not have any actual deadly voltages involved. The most harm it should do you is when the Li-ion battery explodes from being shorted. Even just plugging the stuff in, if she'd managed to short it at the
    actual wall plug it shouldn't have resulted in anything more than some
    minor burns to one hand.

    That is, unless the dumb bitch dunked the power brick (or it was an ancient Pentium-class Toshiba Satellite with a direct AC lead)

     



  •  The voltages in the laptop should not be dangerous. The actual news story slashdot links to seems to indicate that she had plugged the laptop in with wet hands, which is more plausible.

    Could of course also be an isolation problem in the power brick, because they are sometimes not earthed and a small drop of water could connect the DC earth to AC power.



  •  Very sad indeed, but not really a WTF: just someone who was (temporarly?) too stupid to realize electrical sockets and water just don't mix very well (altough she was unlucky, as even the 230V of outlet are usually not enough to cause death, maybe she used a lot of bathing salts to help things a little but). But it's a bit stupid that the "twittering" keeps emphasized so much, I bet no-one would have noticed if she was watching a movie on her laptop.

    That being said, I still think this might be a better place for this story. 

    [edit]Wrong link 'n m' clipb'rd[/edit]



  • The voltages arent the issue. The current is what kills.

    My laptops psu, on the DC side, runs at 19V 3.42A. You need about 50mA to affect the electrical activity of the heart. If she dropped the end of the PSU in the water, that would explain it.



  • @Marine said:

    The voltages arent the issue. The current is what kills.

    My laptops psu, on the DC side, runs at 19V 3.42A. You need about 50mA to affect the electrical activity of the heart. If she dropped the end of the PSU in the water, that would explain it.

    19VDC isn't enough to cause ventricular fibrillation, even if it had a pathway that led straight through the heart, which is unlikely.  This is almost definitely mains current.



  • @Marine said:

    The voltages arent the issue. The current is what kills.

    My laptops psu, on the DC side, runs at 19V 3.42A. You need about 50mA to affect the electrical activity of the heart. If she dropped the end of the PSU in the water, that would explain it.

     

    True, and at the same time blatantly false.

     A high voltage is needed to form a conductive path through a resistant medium, like skin, water or air. For air for example about 1000 volts are needed per cm of air to form a conductive path. The high voltage ionizes the path, only then can a sufficient amount of current flow. An example is the tazer: it is initially set to 50,000 volts. Once it detects a conductive path is is set to a much lower voltage is used to actually stun the target (still about 500 volts if I remember correctly). Why doesn't this kill or seriously damage the target? It's current is kept low (either through electronics or the limitations of the battery): in that you are correct, only with enough current serious harm can occur.

     However, if the voltage is not high enough you can never form a conductive path though a highly-resistant medium like the human skin. Even if that path can be formed there is still a high resistancy. The basic Ohm's law says "I = U/R" so if you want a high current in a resistant medium, you will still need the voltage to get it.

     So basically it boils down to this:
    1. A high voltage is needed for it to be possible for electricity to flow
    and
    2. A high current is needed to actually do harm.

    Since current * voltage = power a high-power source is needed, like a high-capacity battery or ,much more often, the electric network (which power is as good as unlimited from this point of view)

    Because usually in this kinds of situations the maxium power a source can provide is very high, the current factor is usually neglible thus making only the voltage factor interesting.

     

    Note: I'm not a triple-P.h.d. Physics/Electrical/Biological doctor so there might be some simplifications or incorrectness in this text, but I believe the essence is true
    Note 2: I learned most of this in Dutch, so I had to translate the terms I used to English, this might not always be the same terms that are used in English. E.g. the dutch word "vermogen" means one thing: power (in the sense of physics) while in English "power" can mean a much larger number of things (e.g. political power, "powered on" or in the physics sense: "The amount of work can be supplied in a given time")



  • @dtech said:

    2. A high current is needed to actually do harm.

    Most of the rest of what you said is true, but this is not.  As little as 1mA--applied directly to the heart--or 50mA--passing through the chest cavity and the heart--will induce fibrillation.  High current is not required to cause death.  Also note that AC is far more likely to induce fibrillation at a given voltage than DC; the rapid alternation in current causes more interference with the sinus rhythm.  It's moot, though, since 19 volts of AC or DC is not enough to penetrate the chest cavity and cause arrhythmia in the first place. 



  • Well, in the"electrical safety" lectures of my electrical engineering degree we were taught that almost any voltage can be fatal in the right circumstances - in fact 30 volts DC was quoted as dangerous hand-to-hand when wet. Directly applied to a wet chest 19VDC could be fatal.

    It is also worth considering that laptops generally have very high voltages for the LCD backlight (about 2000V)

    However it is more likely that the cause was either the mains side of the PSU.



  • @Marine said:

    The voltages arent the issue. The current is what kills.

    My laptops psu, on the DC side, runs at 19V 3.42A. You need about 50mA to affect the electrical activity of the heart. If she dropped the end of the PSU in the water, that would explain it.

     

     

    Yes it would..... IF SHE WAS A ROBOT AND MADE OF METAL.

     

    Somehting tells me it is the mains side, and she may not have been in the bath at all.





  • I will add to that..... SHE WAS A ROBOT AND MADE OF METAL AND ENJOYED A CALMING HOT BATH THAT IS SUPERSATURATED WITH SALT.

     




  • @GettinSadda said:

    Well, in the"electrical safety" lectures of my electrical engineering degree we were taught that almost any voltage can be fatal in the right circumstances - in fact 30 volts DC was quoted as dangerous hand-to-hand when wet. Directly applied to a wet chest 19VDC could be fatal.

    30VDC can cause some burns or muscle damage but there is no way in hell 19VDC applied to the chest could stop the heart of a 17-year-old.



  • I think the Internet needs a law, in the same vein as Godwin's Law, along these lines:

    Any thread in which the topic of electrocution is raised will inevitably degenerate into an argument between people who are not experts in the field over how much voltage and/or current is necessary to harm or kill a human being.

    The second part of this law is:

    In such an argument, one or more participants will inevitably either try to modify their arguments midstream or drop out of the discussion entirely once they realize that determining the danger of a particular source of electricity is more complicated than a single numerical measurement.

     

    * No pun intended.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @GettinSadda said:
    Well, in the"electrical safety" lectures of my electrical engineering degree we were taught that almost any voltage can be fatal in the right circumstances - in fact 30 volts DC was quoted as dangerous hand-to-hand when wet. Directly applied to a wet chest 19VDC could be fatal.
    30VDC can cause some burns or muscle damage but there is no way in hell 19VDC applied to the chest could stop the heart of a 17-year-old.
    I guess we'll find out tonight.  I plan to find a 17 year old girl and put her in a bathtub full of water and ... wait, what were we talking about?



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    30VDC can cause some burns or muscle damage but there is no way in hell 19VDC applied to the chest could stop the heart of a 17-year-old.

     

    Actually, there might be (but it would involve a lot of deliberation on the dead person's side, unlikely in this case):

    http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin1999-50.html

    It could be just an urban legend, I am too lazy to verify the numbers used in the article, but principially it sounds plausible to me.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    30VDC can cause some burns or muscle damage but there is no way in hell 19VDC applied to the chest could stop the heart of a 17-year-old.

     

    Really?  Ever been shocked by a car battery?  Wanna try clipping on some booster cables while I fire up the ignition?

    12 V DC is plenty enough to be lethal.  You would need a current of about 0.5 A, and most laptop batteries are in the range of 4-5 A.  It might seem hard to believe, but there really is enough juice in a laptop battery to kill you, IF you do something incredibly stupid like shorting it out in the tub.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @GettinSadda said:
    Well, in the"electrical safety" lectures of my electrical engineering degree we were taught that almost any voltage can be fatal in the right circumstances - in fact 30 volts DC was quoted as dangerous hand-to-hand when wet. Directly applied to a wet chest 19VDC could be fatal.
    30VDC can cause some burns or muscle damage but there is no way in hell 19VDC applied to the chest could stop the heart of a 17-year-old.
    I guess we'll find out tonight.  I plan to find a 17 year old girl and put her in a bathtub full of water and ... wait, what were we talking about?

    Murdering children in the name of science.  Please try to keep up.



  • @Someone You Know said:

    * No pun intended.
    Error: Unreferenced footnote



  • @PJH said:

    @Someone You Know said:
    * No pun intended.
    Error: Unreferenced footnote

    The words "the potential* for harm" originally appeared in there somewhere, but didn't make it to the final post. It's been a long day.



  •  @Aaron said:

    Really?  Ever been shocked by a car battery?  Wanna try clipping on some booster cables while I fire up the ignition?

    12 V DC is plenty enough to be lethal.  You would need a current of about 0.5 A, and most laptop batteries are in the range of 4-5 A.  It might seem hard to believe, but there really is enough juice in a laptop battery to kill you, IF you do something incredibly stupid like shorting it out in the tub.

    Ok, there's so much wrong with this, I had to chip in:

    While you fire up the ignition on a car, the voltage in the battery actually DECREASES, because of the huge load imposed on it, so that's retarded to suggest that it somehow is worse while you're firing up the ignition. I'll put my tongue right on the battery while you do whatever you want with the car.Yes, there's a huge amount of current going through the wires to the starter, but none of that current will flow through my body any differently if I hold both terminals of the battery while you are or aren't starting it. It's the same. There'll be about 12 volts across my hands, regardless of how many amps are going through the starter.

    12 Volts isn't enough to be lethal to a human in any way, it'll sting if you lick it or put electrodes directly into your blood stream, but kill you... not a chance. You'd have to have two very close, sharp electrodes, and jab it into one tiny little square micrometer at a time and burn away tiny little pieces of you. 

    You talk about amperage, and yes that matters, but what you are forgetting is: Human bodies are NOT GOOD conductors. We're fairly well insulated, and have a high resistance, so talk about amperage all you want, but you're not going to induce amperage through a human body (or any flesh) without some good voltage behind it. Yes, it's the amperage that kills you but you can't induce any sort of amperage without voltage. To analog electricity to hydraulics, voltage is the pressure, amperage is the flow. It takes flow to kill a human, but you're not going to push a stream of hydraulic oil through someone at 1 psi, that just doesn't make any sense.

    Augh, I hate that I feel like I have to help people understand things.



  • @EJ_ said:

    Augh, I hate that I feel like I have to help people understand things.
    You too? Doesn't it seem like so many people today just don't get it anymore?



  • @Aaron said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    30VDC can cause some burns or muscle damage but there is no way in hell 19VDC applied to the chest could stop the heart of a 17-year-old.

     

    Really?  Ever been shocked by a car battery?  Wanna try clipping on some booster cables while I fire up the ignition?

    12 V DC is plenty enough to be lethal.  You would need a current of about 0.5 A, and most laptop batteries are in the range of 4-5 A.  It might seem hard to believe, but there really is enough juice in a laptop battery to kill you, IF you do something incredibly stupid like shorting it out in the tub.

     

    You sir are the winner of "TRWTF" gold medal for today.



  • I had a friend that died with just a AA 1.5v battery.

    He soldered electrodes to both ends of it and hammered them thru his chest and JAM IT!



  • @Tatiano said:

    I had a friend that died with just a AA 1.5v battery.

    He soldered electrodes to both ends of it and hammered them thru his chest and JAM IT!

    Man, that takes balls.



  • @drachenstern said:

    @EJ_ said:

    Augh, I hate that I feel like I have to help people understand things.
    You too? Doesn't it seem like so many people today just don't get it anymore?

     

     Eh?

     

    Edit: And on a different note anyone else ever heard that releasing the energy stored in a single match head in a burst 1 billionth of a second long would flatten a city block?  Like, are we talking a strike anywhere match or what?



  • @EJ_ said:

    You'd have to have two very close, sharp electrodes, and jab it into one tiny little square micrometer at a time and burn away tiny little pieces of you. 
    Somewhere, the CIA is taking notes.



  • @Someone You Know said:

    I think the Internet needs a law, in the same vein as Godwin's Law, along these lines:

     Indeed. I typed* up a long response, including how to use Ohm's law to predict how much current would pass through the body with the PSU falling into various portions of the bathtub, both with the neutral wire of the PSU and the bathtub drain acting as the ground, and with the victim with either feet or head next to the drain.

    But then I figured the people who understand electricity already know this, and the people who don't won't beleive it.

    I won't be the one in the bathtub, but if you were betting on someone living or dieing if you chucked a PSU into a bathtub with them, the smart money would be on them living, by a wide margin. And the people who watch too many movies and think that you could actually see blue lighting bolts come out of the PSU and dance across the victims face... /shrug.

     

    *Well, I thought about typing it. Then I thought "I don't actually care that they don't understand electricity, and I bet they don't care either".



  • @Aaron said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    30VDC can cause some burns or muscle damage but there is no way in hell 19VDC applied to the chest could stop the heart of a 17-year-old.

     

    Really?  Ever been shocked by a car battery?  Wanna try clipping on some booster cables while I fire up the ignition?

    12 V DC is plenty enough to be lethal.  You would need a current of about 0.5 A, and most laptop batteries are in the range of 4-5 A.  It might seem hard to believe, but there really is enough juice in a laptop battery to kill you, IF you do something incredibly stupid like shorting it out in the tub.

    I mean, Christ, I'm not even an EE, but I at least understand the basic concept of V=I*R. Also, lol alternator.



  • @Marine said:

    The voltages arent the issue. The current is what kills.

    <csi miama>YEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHHH</csi miama>



  •  This Croatian Times article says that she

    had tried to plug the power into the socket with
    wet hands after the battery had died as she used the device for a
    lengthy period in her home in Brasov, central Romania.

    Which makes a bit more sense, but makes me wonder why no other news source I've seen has mentioned this.  I guess "girl killed by laptop" is more newsworthy than "girl killed by electrical outlet".



  • @bstorer said:

    Which makes a bit more sense, but makes me wonder why no other news source I've seen has mentioned this.  I guess "girl killed by laptop" is more newsworthy than "girl killed by electrical outlet".
    I think it's pretty clear that the story was simply filler for the headline.



  • @bstorer said:

    I guess "girl killed by laptop" is more newsworthy than "girl killed by electrical outlet".
    s/laptop/twitter/



  • @boomzilla said:

    @bstorer said:

    Which makes a bit more sense, but makes me wonder why no other news source I've seen has mentioned this.  I guess "girl killed by laptop" is more newsworthy than "girl killed by electrical outlet".
    I think it's pretty clear that the story was simply filler for the headline.


    To me, "tweeting in the bathtub" sounds like an activity that involves a rude noise and a burst of bubbles.



  •  Thanks to this discussion, Georg Ohm is spinning fast enough in his grave to produce a sufficient AC voltage (were he wearing magnets and placed in a proper field) that can be boosted via transformers to a sufficient voltage to overcome the body's natural resistance and produce sufficient current to jolt the cardiac systems of all ye electrically ignorant... ... as long as you all were lying in an  improperly grounded saltwater bath.

    Case closed.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @bstorer said:

    but makes me wonder why no other news source I've seen has mentioned this. 
    From what I recall The Register had that tidbit of information in its article on the subject.

     

    Moving on to other relevant subjects, how the fuck do you even plug a laptop in in the bathroom? Here in North America, I've never observed a traditionally-mounted electrical outlet in a single bathroom - I have seen one ganged in with the light switch, however, and one actually attached to the light fixture above the mirror (for the girlies to plug in their hair implements no doubt). On occasion there's a GFCI outlet mounted over the sink - but that's the extent of it. Is there usually more bathroom electricity in Europe? Or did this idiotic chick actually get out of the bathtub, stand up, and still manage to have her hand be so wet as to electrocute herself to death?



  • I've got 2 electrical outlets in my bathroom, one is pretty much permanently used by the hairdryer, while the other one gets used to recharge my shaver, but they're on the opposite corner from the bathtub. I guess it would be possible to plug in a laptop to use in the bath, but the power brick would probably hang in the air.



  • @ender said:

    I've got 2 electrical outlets in my bathroom, one is pretty much permanently used by the hairdryer, while the other one gets used to recharge my shaver, but they're on the opposite corner from the bathtub. I guess it would be possible to plug in a laptop to use in the bath, but the power brick would probably hang in the air.

    Are they GFCIs?  Are GFCIs common in Europe?



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Are they GFCIs?  Are GFCIs common in Europe?
    I had to look up GFCI on Google, and I believe the answer is yes. The house is old (built in 1940), but the wiring was redone in 1987 (so it's still somewhat old, and there are fuses instead of breakers), but it has what we call FID switch, which seems to be the same as GFCI. I know from experience that this switch will break the circuit if ground and neutral leads touch.



    Oh, and I have no idea how common these are, but I'd expect that all new installations have them (and use breakers, too, instead of fuses). However, there's a lot of old buildings around, so they probably don't, and I'm certain that many don't even have grounding (I lived in an apartment where the wires were so old they were made of lead, with textile isolation, set directly in concrete - not in tubes, so no easy way to change them).



  • @ender said:

    The house is old (built in 1940), but the wiring was redone in 1987 (so it's still somewhat old, and there are fuses instead of breakers), but it has what we call FID switch, which seems to be the same as GFCI. I know from experience that this switch will break the circuit if ground and neutral leads touch.

    Ground and neutral?  I don't think that will usually trip a GFCI.  Hot and ground/neutral will, but that will trip a normal breaker anyway.  GFCIs are meant to prevent electrocution if the current finds a path to ground other than through neutral.  In the US they are required in bathrooms and kitchens.  A GFCI would have almost certainly prevented this girl's death.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Ground and neutral?  I don't think that will usually trip a GFCI.  Hot and ground/neutral will, but that will trip a normal breaker anyway.  GFCIs are meant to prevent electrocution if the current finds a path to ground other than through neutral.
     

    I had a nice long conversation with an electrician once about this, and from what I understand, that's pretty much right. He also pointed out to me that they won't stop you electrocuting yourself if you manage to insert your body between active and neutral.

    @morbiuswilters said:

    In the US they are required in bathrooms and kitchens.

    In Australia, my understanding is that they're required for all new houses. There was a big TV campaign a few years back pushing people to pay for their installation. 

    The previous owner of my house was a plumber who believed that since he was "a tradie", he was naturally skilled at all trades - building, wiring, car work, landscaping... we're about to get the roof supports he took out put back in, because it's starting to sag... Anyway, for some reason, turning off my "safety switch" (/GFCI/FID switch) turns off most of the sockets in the house, but leaves the kitchen and bathroom sockets running...



  • @lomac said:

    Anyway, for some reason, turning off my "safety switch" (/GFCI/FID switch) turns off most of the sockets in the house, but leaves the kitchen and bathroom sockets running...
    It depends on how the GFCI is installed with respect to the rest of the circuit.  It actually protects everything else 'down circuit.'  It's a way to get more GFCI coverage for cheap (since those outlets cost a lot more than regular outlets).  So this was probably done on purpose.  It can be inconvenient, especially if the GFCI goes bad--I've had several go bad on me.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla said:

    It's a way to get more GFCI coverage for cheap (since those outlets cost a lot more than regular outlets).
     

     

    "A lot more" is a bit of an understatement. $9.75 for a single GFCI outlet or $15.90 for a 10-pack. That's typically called "Rape"

    Edit: Removed some other info because I was being slightly dumb and confused arc fault and regular breakers, thus screwing up price comparisons versus ground fault breakers.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @lomac said:

    Anyway, for some reason, turning off my "safety switch" (/GFCI/FID switch) turns off most of the sockets in the house, but leaves the kitchen and bathroom sockets running...
    It depends on how the GFCI is installed with respect to the rest of the circuit.  It actually protects everything else 'down circuit.'  It's a way to get more GFCI coverage for cheap (since those outlets cost a lot more than regular outlets).  So this was probably done on purpose.  It can be inconvenient, especially if the GFCI goes bad--I've had several go bad on me.

    Wiring additional outlets "down circuit" isn't the best idea, however.  The more crap you have running off a GFCI, the more likely you are to have it trip arbitrarily.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Wiring additional outlets "down circuit" isn't the best idea, however.  The more crap you have running off a GFCI, the more likely you are to have it trip arbitrarily.
    The FID switches here are wired in front of fuses/breakers, so all wiring within the apartment is protected by it (and when it trips, everything goes down - not that I ever saw it trip randomly).



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Wiring additional outlets "down circuit" isn't the best idea, however.  The more crap you have running off a GFCI, the more likely you are to have it trip arbitrarily.
    You mean if the GFCI goes bad? Otherwise, it's an inconvenience in that you lose juice to outlets other than the one with a problem, but really just gives you added protection.  Of course, it doesn't make outlets safe for kids, but it's better than nothing.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Wiring additional outlets "down circuit" isn't the best idea, however.  The more crap you have running off a GFCI, the more likely you are to have it trip arbitrarily.
    You mean if the GFCI goes bad? Otherwise, it's an inconvenience in that you lose juice to outlets other than the one with a problem, but really just gives you added protection.  Of course, it doesn't make outlets safe for kids, but it's better than nothing.

    I'm talking about nuisance trips caused by the GFCI handling larger circuits.  The larger the circuit, the more likely harmless leakage current will trip the GFCI.  Some types of motors also have slight leakage problems which can cause a false trip.  I'm not sure what you mean by "doesn't make outlets safe for kids".  It would protect against a kid sticking a fork in the hot side.  Of course, it doesn't protect against hot-to-neutral shorts, but that represents a small number of electrocutions.


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