Learning, Wiring,

How to Touch Live Wire without Getting Shocked (Safety First)

Over the last two decades, I have worked on various electrical projects where I have gotten shocked many times.

Getting an electrical shock is not a pleasant experience. But is there a way to touch a live wire without getting shocked? Yes, there is and I’m going to talk about that and more in this article.

In general, as long as you follow these steps, you won’t get shocked.

  • Only touch the live wire.
  • You shouldn’t be grounded.

However, following these two steps are not practical for some situations.

We’ll go into more detail in our article below.

How to Identify the Live Wire?

capped wires in a blue electrical box

In a single-phase connection, there are three wires.

  1. The green is the ground wire.
  2. The white is the neutral wire.
  3. The live wire is the black one.

In a three-phase connection, there are five wires.

The ground and neutral wires are the same as the single-phase connection. But there are three wires carrying the load; black, red, and blue.

Is There a Way to Touch a Live Wire Without Getting Shocked?

Yes, there is a way to do that. To safely touch a live wire, you should follow these prerequisites.

  • Only touch the live wire.
  • You shouldn’t be grounded.

You won’t get shocked while touching the live wire when the above conditions are met.

When you touch only the live wire, the path of the current won’t be completed, given that you aren’t connected to the ground. There are a few ways to avoid ground connection.

rubber shoes footwear
Video | Electrician U

  • Standing on a plastic or wooden chair.
  • Wearing rubber shoes or footwear.

Plastic, cotton, wood, and rubber are electrical insulators. They don’t conduct electricity in any manner. That doesn’t mean you are completely safe while wearing rubber shoes.

For instance, if your rubber shoes contact water, you’ll be grounded. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. So, you might end up shocked or electrocuted. In this situation, the electricity will enter your body and it will use the ground as an alternative path.

Can I Get Electrocuted Without Touching the Ground?

Yes, you can get electrocuted without touching the ground.

If you touch both the live and ground wire at the same time, you’ll create an alternative path for electrons to travel. So, the electricity doesn’t need the ground. It enters your body from the live wire and will exit from the ground wire. Depending on the load, you might get electrocuted or shocked.

Keep in mind: You might get shocked if you touch the live wire and the neutral wire at the same time.

Things You Should Know About Electricity

In this section, I will explain static and current electricity.

Static Electricity

All the stuff around us is made from atoms. These atoms are tiny particles that only can be seen with the help of a microscope. For instance, you can find these atoms in your body, smartphone, or clothes. However, these atoms are not the smallest particles. They are made up of three different types of things.

  • Electrons
  • Protons
  • Neutrons

Electrons have a negative charge, and protons have a positive charge. Neutrons don’t have any charge. Also, an atom has a similar number of electrons and protons.

Simply, these are the building blocks of the universe. So, there is not much difference when it comes to electricity.

The static electricity becomes active when the amount of proton and electron are not equal. For instance, one extra electron can cause trouble. Unlike protons and neutrons, electrons like to move around.

When you touch an object, the electrons will travel from your body to the object and you might get a little shock.

However, this object should be a conductor. These conductors have a positive charge. For instance, Copper has an extra two protons. That is why we labeled it as Cu+2.

Current Electricity

Current electricity acts the same way as static electricity. (1)

The current electricity has lots of electrons ready to jump. These electrons are always trying to get back to their source. So, when you touch an electrical wire, the electrons travel through your body to reach its source. They use the earth as an alternative path to travel.

This process leads to shock or electrocution.


Why Birds Don’t Get Shocked While They are on Electrical Fences or Power Lines?

birds in wires

Even though electrical fences and power lines are designed to release electrical shock, a bird stands on these electric wires quite comfortably.

The reason for this is the ground connection. As I explained in the above section, if the person or animal is not grounded, they won’t get an electrical shock. In this case, the bird is not grounded. Hence, no electrical shock for the bird.

Can I Use an Insulated Plier to Touch Hot Wire?

finishing up wire capping

Yes, you can. The plier should be properly insulated.  Only touch one wire at a time. Also, make sure that the insulated area is not damaged.

Can I Wear Rubber Gloves to Touch a Live Wire?

You can wear rubber gloves or shoes to protect you from electrical shock. But the built material should be 100% pure rubber. Apart from that, the rubber gloves shouldn’t have any tears or holes on them.

Is Wood an Electrical Insulator?

Yes, wood is a good electrical insulator. So, if you touch a live wire while standing on a wooden surface, you won’t get shocked. However, you might get shocked under the following circumstances.

– If the wooden surface is wet.
– If you touch the live wire and the neutral or ground wire at the same time.

Wrapping Up

Touching a live wire is dangerous. Even if you are not grounded, things might go wrong. Whenever dealing with electrical projects, you should take electrical safety seriously. It might prevent disaster. (2)

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) static electricity – https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/item/how-does-static-electricity-work/
(2) prevent disaster – https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-home/what-to-do-when-disaster-strikes.aspx

Video References

The Engineering Mindset


Electrician U

Don’t Memorise

Interesting Engineering

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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