The dry and pleasant weather in Phoenix in the fall makes pleasant days, but one of its annoying side effects is quite shocking.
(Photo: Getty Images / iStockphoto)
You may consider that fall is the best time of the year in Phoenix, thanks to the mild climate. However, the conditions that produce this beautiful seasonal interlude are responsible for one of the small inconveniences of life.
Thanks to the lack of moisture and layered wool clothing (among other factors), this is the time of the year when you reach very tentatively the metal knob or the refrigerator door handle. Maybe even when you bend over to kiss your partner, knowing that the spark between you will not be what you were waiting for
Instead, it is the blow of a static electric shock.
It could happen almost anytime, anywhere. All you need is a brief accumulation of static electricity followed by contact with a conductive material, usually metal, but it could be another person, a dog or your boss (not that there is any reason to contact your boss).
When it comes to static electricity, we are all conductors. Our bodies collect electrons, which leads to negativity has nothing to do with emotions and everything to do with static electricity.
What is static electricity?
Simply put, it is the accumulation of an electric charge on a surface.
You've probably rubbed your head with a balloon, with your hair lifting it as you move it away, convincing your 2-year-old son that you're a wizard.
Even when his son marvels at his powers, all that happened was the transfer of electrons. Some surfaces release electrons, giving them a positive charge (their hair), while others collect electrons, giving them a negative charge (the balloon). Opposites attract, so the balloon becomes a magnet for the hair.
Is static electricity harmful to humans?
Welcome to the world of hitchhiking electrons.
These pieces of free-range atomic matter like to travel, but occasionally they group together, creating an intolerable overcrowding. Imagine Disneyland on Christmas day.
They need to leave, quickly and all at once. But they need a place to go.
Hey, that metal knob looks good, and it's relatively empty. And it sure exceeds the current location, which is presumably you.
As your index finger approaches the knob, zap! That tingling you feel is your pain receptors that tell your brain how unpleasant it is to have electrons running. You could even see a spark if the electron discharge is large enough.
The good news is that static electricity cannot seriously damage it. Your body is mainly composed of water and water is an inefficient conductor of electricity, especially in such small quantities.
It's not that electricity can't hurt or kill you. But static electricity is like lightning what a drop of water is for a roaring river.
Why is it happening now?
Blame it on dry air and cooler temperatures.
Air is an insulator: it does not allow electrons to travel freely. Those electrons tend to accumulate in you until the moment you touch a surface that is happy to receive them.
The accumulation of electrons is not as pronounced in summer. Warmer air retains more water, allowing electrons to travel. That's why on hot and humid days, you can touch friends, loved ones and knobs with little fear of shock.
How do I get rid of static electricity?
It may not eliminate all shocks, with the abundance of electrons from nature. But you can decrease its frequency and intensity.
One of the easiest and most efficient solutions is to humidify your home, providing the water vapor necessary for the electrons to roam. Humidifiers They cost between $ 15 and $ 250, depending on size and features.
For a more specific application, try a antistatic spray ($ 5- $ 9 per can). A quick spray on clothes and furniture can take care of the accumulation of electrons.
Dryer sheets It can also reduce static electricity. Rubbing them on the carpet once a week may reduce the risk of static discharges, but given the time and work involved, you may think it is worth spending more time watching television in some zaps.
You may want avoid shoes with rubber soles. You are walking on insulators, which allows static electricity to accumulate with each step, especially on wool carpets. Try shoes with leather soles.
And maybe do not wear wool. The fabric is a more efficient conductor than cotton, which means that it can accumulate a lot of static charge. You can even hear the crunch of static electricity by putting on that flannel shirt or wrapping in a wool blanket. It's almost as if you put on a generator.
Any advice not so useful?
Why yes, thanks for asking.
First, avoid dressing in layers. Static accumulation is the natural result of rubbing fabrics, so the more layers you use, the more likely you are to surprise yourself or others. We say this with full awareness that when it reaches 50 and below, we dress as if it was snowing. (Stop laughing at us, people of Minnesota).
Second, prepare for the inevitable shock. Touch a potentially dangerous surface with the wrist or forearm, much less sensitive areas than the fingertips.
Unless, of course, you want to intentionally surprise someone.
Do you have any advice on relatively unknown destinations to see in Arizona? Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8773. Follow him on Twitter @ Scott_Craven2.
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