Author Topic: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock  (Read 3341 times)

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Offline Symon

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Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« on: March 06, 2018, 05:25:37 AM »
I'm posting this in the general discussion area as I know there are many who don't look in the electrical section.  Despite what was said in the footage, broken neutral faults are quite common and even more so with older houses.  When the supply neutral breaks the plumbing can rise to 240V potential creating a possibly fatal situation.

If you experience tingles from taps, shocks in the shower, or lights that occasionally dim for no apparent reason, get your house checked out immediately.  With this kind of fault, RCD's will not save you.

Quote
Energy crews have launched an investigation into a metal tap which has left an 11-year-old girl fighting for life after she suffered an electric shock at her family’s Perth home.

Denishar Woods suffered critical injuries when she was shocked trying to turn off an outside tap at the home in Beldon, in Perth’s north on Saturday.

Her mother, Lacey Harrison, and neighbour Mervin Brown tried to help and also suffered electric shocks.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/2018/03/04/21/31/perth-girl-fighting-for-life-after-electric-shock-at-home

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Offline Pottsy

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2018, 07:17:27 AM »
Have experienced this once before in a shack on Kangaroo Island, first up thought it was salt and nicked hands causing the tingling on a hot tap in the shower, when the same thing happened for three days and my brother experienced the same tingling we realised something was wrong and advised the owners.
It was rectified whilst we were there and it was a broken neutral as described.
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Offline trinityalyce

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2018, 08:11:43 AM »
Really tragic situation and something people need to be aware of... :(
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Offline rags

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2018, 09:11:34 PM »
Many years ago when I worked for a water company, A former colleague was when repairing a water service connection to a main tap on a water main due to a broken neutral on the adjoin house caused a fault.As plumbers we are taught to use bonding straps when repairing water pipes or removing meters. Also have insulated gloves for touching meters. The Water Meter readers will open the meter flap with an insulated bar rather than touch the meter.
Not as big issue on new houses as the plumbers stopped putting in copper pipes using plastic instead, so electricians had to use earth stakes.

Offline Hookie

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2018, 04:28:04 AM »
plumbers stopped putting in copper pipes using plastic instead

This can often be the cause of problems too. You have a circuit grounded to steel or copper plumbing, a plumber comes along to do a mod or repair using plastic, breaks the circuit and you're no longer grounded. Don't know about here, but when I lived in the US it was common practice to clamp grounding wire to the pipes anywhere you put a potential insulator in the plumbing system.

Offline paul.o

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2018, 09:21:11 AM »
I have no experience in this, but in the case of plastic replacing copper in an otherwise copper system, wouldn't the water still facilitate continuity?

School me please.

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Offline moeite

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2018, 12:52:43 PM »
I have no experience in this, but in the case of plastic replacing copper in an otherwise copper system, wouldn't the water still facilitate continuity?

School me please.

Paul

Not enough. The conductivity of copper or gal pipe is so much greater than water.
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Offline Hookie

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2018, 03:41:50 PM »
I have no experience in this, but in the case of plastic replacing copper in an otherwise copper system, wouldn't the water still facilitate continuity?

School me please.

Paul

Pure water is basically an insulator. With chlorine and other ions in there it will conduct, but it's still no match for a metal conductor. Then there's also what happens if your pipes are empty for whatever reason.

Offline Pete79

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2018, 04:12:58 PM »
Pure water is basically an insulator. With chlorine and other ions in there it will conduct, but it's still no match for a metal conductor. Then there's also what happens if your pipes are empty for whatever reason.
How pure are we talking here??

Like most of us I grew up with my parents drumming in the old rules of “don’t talk on the phone (fixed cable landline) or take a shower during a lightning storm”

Considering fixed line phones are ancient history I often wonder about the showering one.
We’re only on rainwater here, with poly tanks, poly water mains and small sections of copper chased in the concrete walls to the fittings. Our waste water goes into a 5,000L poly tank (worm farm) before being pumped out to the irrigation area.

Considering all of the above, if lightning hit our house is our water pure enough and the mains/waste water isolated/non conductive enough to be safe standing in the shower?

Offline GBC

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2018, 04:30:16 PM »
Having been a building insurance assessor and a lighthouse repairer let me be the first to say that when lightning hits your house all bets are off. That is a completely different pond to play in compared with 240v. I’ve seen whole flights of concrete stairs blown apart. I’d want to be in a different post code to a direct hit.

Offline jclures

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2018, 05:03:06 PM »
I had lightning hit the roof of our home while we were in it, half of the lights had to be replaced, blew the phone to bits,  fridges, microwave, and other various items, never went again computer stuffed. The lightning went to ground through the back steps, there was a trench blown out of the ground, going across the lawn for around 3m from the steps.
I had to get a sparkie to check things out before before I could even start to get things repaired.

Offline Symon

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2018, 05:10:52 PM »
How pure are we talking here??

Like most of us I grew up with my parents drumming in the old rules of “don’t talk on the phone (fixed cable landline) or take a shower during a lightning storm”

Considering fixed line phones are ancient history I often wonder about the showering one.
We’re only on rainwater here, with poly tanks, poly water mains and small sections of copper chased in the concrete walls to the fittings. Our waste water goes into a 5,000L poly tank (worm farm) before being pumped out to the irrigation area.

Considering all of the above, if lightning hit our house is our water pure enough and the mains/waste water isolated/non conductive enough to be safe standing in the shower?

In short, no.

Yes demineralised water is a good insulator, but it doesn't take much for it to become conductive.
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Offline Pete79

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2018, 05:28:30 PM »
Cheers. Will keep kicking the kids out of the shower when storms are coming if that’s the case. ;)

Offline Mitch92

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2018, 07:50:11 PM »
Just for those interested so.e power stations actually have the stator in their generators cooled with water. The stator bars are hollow and have demineralised water pumped through for heat management etc. These generators are generating at ~20,000 Volts.

Just shows how pure water can be an insulator.

As Symon said though tank water is nowhere near it.

Offline paul.o

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2018, 11:48:22 AM »
Thanks for explaining it.

Offline Darcy7

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2018, 11:54:37 AM »
Cheers. Will keep kicking the kids out of the shower when storms are coming if that’s the case. ;)

Imagine being in the shower or in contact with some other electrical device when this storm hit...!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85zwRCAUBZc


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Offline Pete79

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2018, 12:20:57 PM »
Great footage there mate.
We had half a dozen strikes within a few 100m of home in the recent storms. I was under the metal awning on the shed, sitting on a timber table (not game to put me feet on the wet floor) watching the action exploding around us and the kids wanted to have a shower before the power went out. ::)

Offline gronk

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2018, 06:28:40 PM »
Great footage there mate.
We had half a dozen strikes within a few 100m of home in the recent storms. I was under the metal awning on the shed, sitting on a timber table (not game to put me feet on the wet floor) watching the action exploding around us and the kids wanted to have a shower before the power went out. ::)

Ha ha....timber is no match for lightning....

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Offline Symon

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2019, 03:44:13 AM »
So the report is out, and as expected it was a broken neutral - https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/atoms/files/investigation_report_beldon_electrical_accident_report_-_final_version_25_september_2019.pdf

Considering the previous maintenance history of the property there are some serious questions that need answering, I'm sure there will be more information coming out in the next year or two.
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Offline Jeepers Creepers

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2019, 05:02:12 AM »
Good thread Symon, thanks for not putting it in the lecky section.
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Offline rockrat

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2019, 09:44:11 AM »
So the report is out, and as expected it was a broken neutral - https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/atoms/files/investigation_report_beldon_electrical_accident_report_-_final_version_25_september_2019.pdf

Considering the previous maintenance history of the property there are some serious questions that need answering, I'm sure there will be more information coming out in the next year or two.
Please point out if I am wrong but I didn’t see anywhere in the report that lack of maintenance was the cause.

The neutral became open circuit at the mains connection box. The report notes that there are no specific recommendations for maintenance at that point.


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Offline edz

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2019, 10:51:24 AM »
Thinking Symon means some Red flags should have been raised and further investigation warranted,   when you go through the amount of electrical problems and times things were checked in a short period of time, Though the inspections might have been done by different sparky's  and the history not known ..
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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2019, 06:07:21 AM »
Please point out if I am wrong but I didn’t see anywhere in the report that lack of maintenance was the cause.

The neutral became open circuit at the mains connection box. The report notes that there are no specific recommendations for maintenance at that point.

Look at section 5.2 - On 5 occasions in the space of 8 months there were maintenance reports logged of 'inspecting the earth stake, testing RCD's, no defects found'.  Why would you do that so frequently?  Although not mentioned in the report it would be a pretty safe assumption that complaints were made about electric shocks - so the sparky comes out, checks the earth stake, tests the RCD's, can't find a fault, so leaves it without checking for a faulty neutral.

I would hate to be the ones who did those inspections.
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Offline rockrat

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2019, 08:32:17 AM »
Look at section 5.2 - On 5 occasions in the space of 8 months there were maintenance reports logged of 'inspecting the earth stake, testing RCD's, no defects found'.  Why would you do that so frequently?  Although not mentioned in the report it would be a pretty safe assumption that complaints were made about electric shocks - so the sparky comes out, checks the earth stake, tests the RCD's, can't find a fault, so leaves it without checking for a faulty neutral.

I would hate to be the ones who did those inspections.
But still no mention by the report authors that poor maintenance or fault finding was the cause or that different maintenance or fault finding practices were recommended. You are making assumptions that may be right or may be wrong is all I am saying.


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Offline Symon

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Re: Young girl fighting for life after an electric shock
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2019, 10:38:31 AM »
But still no mention by the report authors that poor maintenance or fault finding was the cause or that different maintenance or fault finding practices were recommended. You are making assumptions that may be right or may be wrong is all I am saying.

The only assumption I'm making is that whoever it was that attended on those 5 occasions mentioned that looked at the RCD's and earth stake did so due to reported electric shocks.  I have made no mention to any effect otherwise about maintenance practices.  Having said that, if I was attending an installation where someone had been complaining about shocks I would be doing more than looking at the earth stake and testing the RCD's - especially if no faults had been found with either.  That would be especially the case if there were previous callouts for the same thing.

You should also read Appendix A of the report, where it lists two methods of detecting a broken neutral.  The first method is by maintenance inspections which has been described as not cost effective or practical.  The second method is via the rollout of smart meters that can detect these faults - and this is the recommendation.  So yes, the report does mention different maintenance or fault finding practices, but only recommends the latter.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 10:42:01 AM by Symon »
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