What Happens When You Stick a Fork in an Outlet?

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you stuck a fork in an electrical outlet? It’s one of those things that we’re told not to do from a young age, but we never really understand why.

First, let me clarify: sticking a fork in an electrical outlet is a bad idea. It’s not something you should ever do, no matter how curious you are. Electrical outlets are designed to deliver a lot of power and can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a much better understanding of why you should never stick a fork in an electrical outlet, and you’ll know what to do if you or someone you know ever gets electrocuted.

What Happens When You Stick a Fork in an Outlet?

a fork stack on an outlet
Video | TKOR

Sticking a fork in an outlet is not only dangerous, but it can also be deadly.

Electrical Shock

When you stick a fork in an outlet, you are essentially completing an electrical circuit. The electrical current flows through the fork and into your body, causing an electric shock.

The severity of the shock depends on a few factors, including the voltage of the outlet, your body’s resistance, and the shock’s duration.

In most cases, the shock will be painful and may cause muscle contractions, burns, and even death.

Burns and Tissue Damage

an image of a burnt skin

In addition to the electrical shock, sticking a fork in an outlet can cause burns and tissue damage.

The electrical current can heat the fork and cause it to burn your skin. The heat can also damage your tissue and organs, leading to long-term health problems.

The severity of the burns and tissue damage depends on the outlet’s voltage, the shock’s duration, and the shock’s location on your body.

Fire Hazard

a burning building or home

Finally, sticking a fork in an outlet can also be a fire hazard. The electrical current can heat the fork and cause it to ignite nearby flammable materials, such as curtains or paper.

This can quickly lead to a fire that can spread throughout your home. In addition, the electrical current can also damage the wiring in your home, leading to electrical fires and other hazards further from the point of incident.

Electrical Injury Symptoms

Electrical shock and injury can have serious consequences, ranging from mild discomfort to life-threatening conditions.

Understanding the symptoms of electrical shock and injury is crucial to prevent harm and take appropriate action in an emergency.

BurnsElectrical burns can range from mild to severe and can cause damage to the skin and tissue beneath.
NumbnessElectrical shock can cause muscle contractions or spasms, which can be painful and make moving difficult.
Muscle contractionsElectrical shock can cause muscle contractions or spasms, which can be painful and may make it difficult to move.
Cardiac arrestIn severe cases, electrical shock can cause the heart to stop beating, leading to cardiac arrest and potentially death.
SeizuresElectrical shock can cause seizures, which may involve muscle rigidity, convulsions, and loss of consciousness.
Difficulty breathingInhaling smoke or other substances during an electrical fire can cause difficulty breathing or respiratory distress.

Other Consequences of Electric Shock

In this table, I will list other potential consequences of electric shock caused by sticking a fork in an outlet.

This information can help raise awareness of the risks associated with electric shock and promote safe practices around electrical outlets.

Brain DamageElectric shock can damage internal organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. This can lead to organ failure, which can be life-threatening and require medical intervention.
ComaElectric shock can cause a person to enter a coma, a state of unconsciousness lasting for hours, days, or weeks. The person may require life support to survive and may experience long-term complications.
DeathElectric shock can be fatal, particularly if the shock is strong enough or the person has a pre-existing medical condition. Death can occur within minutes or hours of the shock, depending on the severity of the injury.
Organ FailureElectric shock can cause muscle contractions or spasms, leading to sprains, strains, or fractures. The shock can also cause a person to fall or lose control of their body, leading to other injuries.
Musculoskeletal InjuriesElectric shock can cause psychological trauma, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The extent of the trauma depends on the severity and duration of the shock and the individual’s pre-existing mental health conditions.
Psychological TraumaElectric shock can cause psychological trauma, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The extent of the trauma depends on the severity and duration of the shock, as well as the individual’s pre-existing mental health conditions.

What to Do if Someone Sticks a Fork in an Outlet

If you or someone you know has stuck a fork in an outlet, it is important to act quickly and calmly. Here are the steps you should take:

Call 911If someone has been electrocuted and is unresponsive or having difficulty breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Turn off the powerTurn off the power source or unplug the device, causing the electrical shock. This can help prevent further injury.
Do not touch the personIf someone is being electrocuted, do not touch them with your bare hands, as you could also become electrocuted.
Use a non-conductive object to move the personIf you must move someone electrocuted, use a non-conductive object such as a wooden broom handle or a dry towel.
Perform CPR if necessaryIf someone is unresponsive and not breathing, perform CPR until medical help arrives.
Administer first aid for burnsIf someone has suffered electrical burns, run cool water over the burn for at least 10 minutes and seek medical attention.

Safety Precautions to Prevent Electrical Accidents

Electrical accidents are no joke. One small mistake can lead to serious injury or even death.

That’s why it’s crucial to take safety precautions to prevent electrical accidents from happening in the first place. Here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years:

Teaching Children about Electrical Safety

It’s never too early to start teaching your children about electrical safety. Ensure they understand that electrical outlets are not toys and that they should never stick anything into them.

Childproofing Outlets

If you have young children, it’s important to childproof your outlets. You can do this by installing outlet covers or tamper-resistant outlets. Outlet covers are inexpensive and can be easily installed by anyone.

Tamper-resistant outlets are a bit more expensive, but they are much more effective at preventing children from sticking things into the outlets.

Electrical Safety Tips for Homeowners

If you’re a homeowner, there are several things you can do to prevent electrical accidents. First, ensure that all of your electrical outlets are up to code.

If you’re unsure, have an electrician come and inspect them. Additionally, ensure that all your appliances are in good working condition and that their cords are not frayed or damaged.

Finally, consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in your kitchen, bathroom, and outdoor outlets. These devices can help prevent electrical shock.

Safety Precautions for Electric Work

If you plan on doing any electrical work, ensure you have the proper training and equipment. Never attempt to do electrical work if you’re unsure of what you’re doing.

Additionally, always turn off the power to the area where you’ll be working and use a voltage tester to ensure no electricity is flowing.

Finally, wear protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, to protect yourself from electrical shock.

These tips can help keep yourself and your family safe from electrical shock. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Wrapping Up

So, what have we learned about sticking a fork in an electrical outlet? Let me break it down for you:

  • It’s dangerous. It’s worth stating again. The electricity running through an outlet can cause serious injury or even death if not handled properly.
  • It’s not worth the risk. You might be curious about what would happen, but the consequences far outweigh any potential benefits (non-existent).
  • There are safer ways to satisfy your curiosity. If you’re interested in how electricity works, plenty of resources available online or at your local library can teach you without putting yourself in harm’s way.

In short, sticking a fork (or any other object) in an electrical outlet is a bad idea. It’s not worth the risk of injury or death, and there are much safer ways to learn about electricity.

So, let’s leave the fork in the kitchen where it belongs and keep ourselves safe from harm.





  • “Electrical Safety Handbook” by John Cadick and Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer
  • “Electrical Safety of Low-Voltage Systems” by Massimo Mitolo
  • “Electrical Safety: Safety and Health for Electrical Trades” by David Smith

Video References


GFG Alliance Whyalla

Bill Of All Trades

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About Alex Robertson

c3c9d43f1f0d14c4b73cb686f2c81c4e?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.M.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Mechanical Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Hi, I’m Alex! I’m a co-founder, content strategist, and writer and a close friend of our co-owner, Sam Orlovsky. I received my Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (B.M.E.) degree from Denver, where we studied together. My passion for technical and creative writing has led me to help Sam with this project.

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