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December 12, 2008 9:54 AM   Subscribe

30 Ways to Die of Electrocution. A Flickr set reprinted from 1931 a German book called Electrocution in 132 Pictures. Via.
posted by Astro Zombie (46 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
This one is easily the best. It's like a trick shot shock.
posted by aheckler at 9:59 AM on December 12, 2008


Why electric cows never caught on.
posted by yhbc at 10:03 AM on December 12, 2008


This is several different kinds of awesome.
posted by ob at 10:04 AM on December 12, 2008


German light fixtures: really shitty.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:09 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


We just used these illustrations to wallpaper my grandchildren's bedroom.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:11 AM on December 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


Brutal.
posted by piratebowling at 10:11 AM on December 12, 2008




This one looks deliberate.
posted by squalor at 10:18 AM on December 12, 2008


Lots of great images, but this one is my fave (and sure to play a part in my next mix disc cover).
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:22 AM on December 12, 2008


I love the graphic design, and just the way people were dressed back then. I want one of those hats!
posted by dunkadunc at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2008


Lesson learned - never touch two things at once, ever.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:27 AM on December 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


These are awesome, but was it really that dangerous to touch anything electrified back then? Maybe it was just a German thing, but it looks like nothing was insulated and all the casings of those lamps and hair driers and mysterious death boxes were live, and nothing was grounded.
posted by Venadium at 10:28 AM on December 12, 2008


And a German nitpick: it's not Electrocution in 132 Pictures, it's Electricity Safety in 132 Pictures.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:30 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


What the hell is that baby doing?
posted by odinsdream at 10:30 AM on December 12, 2008


I think those handle things plug into what is probably a milk warmer on the side table. Which only raises more safety concerns.
posted by DU at 10:38 AM on December 12, 2008


Looks like the power terminals for an electric milk warmer. Pretty bizarre arrangement, though.
posted by raygirvan at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2008


30 ways to leave your lover...

Grab on the lamps champ.
Piss on the wires sqiure.
Take a ride on the hay Jay,
just get yourself free.
Take a hot bath Kath.
Suck on a plug Doug.
Poke a hot socket Crocket,
And get yourself free.
posted by phirleh at 10:41 AM on December 12, 2008 [17 favorites]


I like these. But they did make me recall Unpleasant Ways to Die. Why did I own that book as a teenager? Sick, man.

Oh and I want to see the other 102 illustrations from this book.
posted by cashman at 10:42 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


asavage busted this one. And probably this one. But cool illustrations.
posted by greensweater at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2008


Here are a few real life ways to fry yourself.
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:59 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, that thick-lined German simplicissimus style turns my crank every time.
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 AM on December 12, 2008


Given everything else that the Germans were doing in the 1930s, this is probably the least disturbing thing that could be connected to them during that period of time. So that, at least, is something.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:12 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Germans need to stop with the gruesome How-To books. It's getting out of control.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:21 AM on December 12, 2008


aheckler's one looks more like a trick *shit* than shot. Or shock.
posted by notsnot at 11:30 AM on December 12, 2008


asavage busted this one.

From the look on his face, that boy is not doing what asavage busted. At least not on the show.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:56 AM on December 12, 2008


Remember kids, electricity is an alien entity that seeks new mechanical hosts using human beings as a medium of transmission.
posted by cimbrog at 12:09 PM on December 12, 2008


When I was stationed in Bad Kissengen, West Germany, it was all 220v.
posted by winks007 at 12:16 PM on December 12, 2008


And that, kids, is why we have grounded appliances, circuit breakers, and double insulation.
posted by scruss at 1:36 PM on December 12, 2008


And I thank God for it, because with the amount of electronics I use, and the ragged wear I give them, and the fact that this computer has exposed wire
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:38 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


This doesn't look like an accidental shock.

Once, growing up, I was making grilling cheese and I had to plug in the toaster oven to do it (Mom was insistent that the toaster oven was plotting to kill everything she loved, so it was always kept unplugged.) I had to push away one of those Craft Fair danging-stained-glass doodads when the metal prong of the plug made contact with the doodad's leading at the exact moment it touched the outlet.

I woke up on the other side of the room and there was a huge scorch mark on the wall.

We threw out the toaster oven.
posted by The Whelk at 1:57 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]




Yeah, the 220 volts makes a difference. Here in the US electricians lick their fingers and touch the wires to see if they're hot.

I've heard that old Soviet wiring uses just one hot wire, and the plumbing as ground.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:47 PM on December 12, 2008


Even more German safety instruction.

I want to go over the end of this.

Klaus, distracted by an administrative employee he is sexually attracted to, impales one worker on the left tine of his fork lift. This worker is holding a chainsaw, and because he is impaled he accidentally decapitates Klaus. The forklift, now out of control, impales another worker who cannot hear it coming because he is properly protecting his hearing in an industrial environment. Operated only by Klaus' headless corpse, the forklift drives into a piece of sheet metal, amputating the first worker's arm and chainsaw such that they vertically slice some poor bastard who was already horizontally halved by Klaus' negligence.

I really, honestly can't tell if they're being serious or not anymore.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:59 PM on December 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dude, that was based on a real incident.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:03 PM on December 12, 2008


Everything IS better in the original German!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 4:17 PM on December 12, 2008


These are awesome, but was it really that dangerous to touch anything electrified back then? Maybe it was just a German thing, but it looks like nothing was insulated and all the casings of those lamps and hair driers and mysterious death boxes were live, and nothing was grounded.

For a time, I built and sold lamps for a living. Thankfully I understood enough about wiring and the nature of responsibility to build and test things very carefully.

Most lamps are not grounded. There may be some that are, but I have never seen a typical Edison thread American 120 volt fixture that was grounded. Sadly, even today what insulates "hot" from ground in most fixtures is a cardboard cylinder.

I sold my lamps at an outdoor "flea" type market, where a great deal of merchandise is antique. I would check out other vendors, of course, and what I saw sometimes frightened me. Indeed, wiring from that time period was rubberized fabric, and will naturally age and oxidize over time. But what was particularly disturbing was to see where the wire would enter the body of the lamp. Many lamp bodies are metallic, and often the insulating grommet that surrounds the wire where it enters the body of the lamp would be missing. This can chafe away the insulation, and lead to the body of the lamp becoming "hot".

More disturbing and insidious is this; since a grounded male plug is necessarily a 3 prong plug, there is only one way to insert into the female receptacle. Modern two-prong male plugs are still polarized, with the left spade wider than the right. What happens with "antique" appliances is this; many were not grounded in the first place, so you only had two spades to begin with. Modern male plugs have the left spade wider than the right, and cannot be inserted into the "hot" side. (This assumes your ground prong is down) Over years of use, the left, or "neutral" spade wears down. In some cases it can wear down so much that it can be inserted into the right or "hot" side of the receptacle.

Now you have a dangerous condition, particularly when you go to change the bulb. As you unscrew the bulb the polarity has been reversed, and the female threads, not the button base, is "hot". If you happen to touch the male threads on the bulb while they are still in contact with the female threads of the socket, and the lamp is plugged in, and the switch is on, you may be shocked.

I was shocked, not electrocuted, as a child. Electrocution means death, and many people confuse the two terms.

My mother and brother were in the process of redecorating my bathroom. I was about 6 or 7, and still took baths. I was still using the bathtub in the middle of their redecoration, which involved the application of new wallpaper. They had taken off the switch plate on the switch plate that controlled the overhead light. As I left the bathtub dripping wet, I reacted as I habitually did, which is to swipe the switch downward to turn it off.

I was shocked with 120 volts AC. I seem to remember streamers of light emerging from my peripheral vision. I remember yelling for my parents, and a scene of wet, painful, naked confusion.

I have on occasion been lightly shocked at work with TIG welders. By design, the voltage is low, though the amperage is very high.

Being shocked and death by electrocution is no joke. Congratulations to the creators of this pamphlet. The images were disturbing enough to me that I could only make it through about half of them. I think grounding and the introduction of high quality plastic insulation has reduced the risks so graphically illustrated, but the same scenarios still occur.
posted by Tube at 5:33 PM on December 12, 2008 [4 favorites]



Modern two-prong male plugs are still polarized, with the left spade wider than the right....

Awesome. Never put that together. Always wondered, with lightbulbs (and AC->DC rectifiers, for that matter) working as they do, why it mattered at all which way they were plugged in.
posted by blenderfish at 5:44 PM on December 12, 2008


My brain took the word "electrocution" and read "execution" and I was really creeped out. I'm glad I clicked on the comments.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:28 PM on December 12, 2008


Here in the US electricians lick their fingers and touch the wires to see if they're hot.

A former coworker once hold me they actually (used to?) put them on their tongues. He insisted it was true. I would be skeptical of either story anyway, but I actually did accidentally zap myself with a shorted out extension cord once and there's just no way.
posted by DU at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2008


Unless it was a low-voltage DC circuit, there's just no way.

You can put nine volts DC on your tongue just fine, twelve is unpleasant. As far as I remember, AC is much more dangerous than DC because the current is effectively starting and stopping, which (if I remember correctly) means resistance is lower, including in your body.

120AC could easily kill you. I wouldn't even want to think about 240.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:01 PM on December 12, 2008


Meanwhile, next door in Czechoslovakia... CHRÁŇTE DETI!!!
posted by hangashore at 8:07 PM on December 12, 2008


I have a plumber friend who once grabbed onto a pipe that had somehow become electrified. The current closed his fingers into an almost literal death grip -- he only lived by collapsing his legs to pull his hand off. An electrician's rule is to keep one hand in a pocket when poking around in sketchy places. If electricity passes up one arm and out the other, it can zap your heart and kill you. Keep a hand in your pocket and it goes down your legs, which is supposedly less risky. Or maybe this is just urban legend.
posted by Camofrog at 8:36 PM on December 12, 2008


There was an electrician who did some stuff on our place years ago who loved to freak out the carpenter and a couple other guys by working on "hot" fixtures.

A couple of years later he went missing. He -- or rather, his body -- had to be dragged out of a crawlspace where he was working alone.

Anyway, this one is all too real to me. One of our rental units is a gorgeous 1920s townhouse with a cast-iron tub in the bathroom. Where's the only light? In the ceiling. How do you turn it on? Pull-chain. What's the pull-chain made of? Metal.

I'm doing something about it. Not that anyone is messing with the light while they're in the tub. You hope.
posted by dhartung at 12:22 AM on December 13, 2008


I really, honestly can't tell if they're being serious or not anymore.

This was actually made for a film festival.
posted by atrazine at 9:00 PM on December 13, 2008


The way people do get hurt with car batteries is when they accidentally bridge the terminals with a wrench: the voltage is low so it won't go through your skin, but the amperage is such that the wrench (or, particularly, any rings you're wearing) can get really hot, really fast- you could lose a finger easily.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:01 PM on December 14, 2008


dunkadunc, this happened to a relative of mine. Having trouble starting his motorboat, leaned over the engine to have a look, and accidentally shorted the battery terminal with his metal watch strap. Charring and lifetime scarring ensued.

I'm responsible for several medium-voltage distribution-connected power stations. By medium voltage, I mean 27.6kV. That'll dead you real quick. It's sobering reading work procedures; every footnote, every seemingly trivial step is there because someone died or was maimed doing it the wrong way.
posted by scruss at 8:03 PM on December 14, 2008


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