Ever been electrocuted by a car? It's probably not just your car - have you been shocked by a doorknob or even after a hug?
An electric shock can be very startling, especially in a car
If you've been literally shocked, you must have been shocked psychologically too. Considering the fact that it doesn't happen often, you have every right to want to understand the reason. Naijauto will be explaining how this happens and how you can avoid it.
You don't have to be connected to electricity before getting shocked by your car, it can happen through something called static electricity.
What is static electricity?
Basically, static electricity is the accumulation of positive or negative electric charge in one place. This occurs when two materials rub against each other. Every material consists of negatively and positively-charged particles, and to establish a perfect balance, the particles usually exist in equal amounts.
However, there are cases where an imbalance might occur. When two materials rub against each other and one material steals negatively-charged electrons from the other, one material ends up with more negative charge than positive charge. What does this mean? It means the negative charge needs to find a way out, but if it doesn't, it remains in the material and is called static charge, or electricity.
How do you build static electricity?
Building up a static charge is very easy, and we do it unconsciously every day. When your shoes rub the carpet while you walk, different clothing materials come in contact or you rub a balloon on your hair, static charge can be produced.
Now that you understand what static shock means how does the electric shock occur?
How you are shocked
Since more than enough static charge has been built up already, an electric shock is about to take place. Once your fingers come in contact with a conducting material like metal, the surplus electrons that have been built up will discharge or jump between your hand and the conductor, that's when you get shocked!
What happens while you are in your car?
While driving, electrons are building up without your knowledge. The electrons are exchanged between your car seat and clothes, accumulating volts of excess charges. Once you safely open the door and step out of the car, enough electrons have built up on your clothes, and in return, your car takes the opposite charge. There's a worse situation here: your car has rubber tires (of course) and your shoe soles are also made of rubber, which are insulators. These insulators prevent the accumulated charges from escaping to the ground, which prevents a shock.
So, once you touch the metal door electrons hop between your finger and your car. Although the shock isn't so deadly, it's still isn't inert either.
How do you prevent getting a car shock?
There are at least five ways you can prevent this from happening, these solutions will either prevent the charges from building up or safely discharge them without zapping you.
1. Use an anti-static product on your seat
To avoid getting zapped, you can purchase an anti-static product and spray it on your car seat. The spray serves as an obstacle between your clothes and your car seat. Static electricity builds up while you're driving - electrons jump in between your clothes and the surface of your car seat, then the anti-static spray prevents the activity. Once there is no build-up of electrons, there is no charge and you can't experience shock.
However, not every anti-static spray is good for your car seat. Be sure to check compatibility between the spray and your car seat type.
You can check contemporary auto shops around you to get in Nigeria.
2. Install an anti-static strap
This is a simple strap that looks like a hand band, but actually does more work than beautifying the wrist. The anti-static strap can be attached to the car frame just behind your vehicle. Wherever it's installed, it should hang down and be in direct contact with the ground underneath your vehicle. If you don't mind having a clearly visible strap hanging behind your vehicle, this should be a perfect choice for you.
You have to choose between getting zapped and answering questions about the rubber behind your vehicle.
3. Use an anti-static keychain
Once you purchase an anti-static keychain, you can easily discharge the static energy that has built up in your clothes while driving Just before you touch your door to get out (or even shut it after getting out), you can use the keychain to touch your car first. This can also be done before you get in. The anti-static keychain comes with a form of light that shows up when static electricity gets discharged through it.
Use them before you get in or before shutting the door.
Other ways to stay safe
There are other ways to discard static electricity without having to purchase something:
1. As explained earlier, you and the car have picked up opposite charges and the shock occurs after you've been separated. To avoid the zap, balance the charge by touching the (metal part of) car while stepping out. Do this simultaneously and you're safe.
2. If you have a coin, rub it against the car before touching it, this does the job of an anti-static keychain.
3. Before shutting the door, first, touch the car with your knuckles, the knuckles are less sensitive than the fingertips.
4. Use your shoulder or elbow to shut the car door.
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