What Are the Dangers of Electric Fences?
Electric fences, particularly those used to protect livestock, are generally safe when you follow correct installation and connection procedures. However, electric fences can trigger shocks that can have dangerous outcomes, especially to people with preexisting health conditions.
Knowing the dangers coming from electric fences can help you take the necessary precautions.
Although deadly outcomes due to electric fences do not happen often, the fact that they do happen should elicit serious concerns. Realize that contact with electric fences could result in tragedy. In most cases, contact with electric fences triggers a harmless shock, which initially happens at first contact. Properly installed fences produce shocks in pulses that allow the victim to disengage right away at first shock; however, fences that do not have pulsing can send continuous, electrical shock to the body for a lengthy period, which can have fatal results. In some cases, entrapped victims become unconscious while in contact with the electric fence, says the Government of South Australia, Office of the Technical Regulators.
Trying to pass underneath an electric fence can cause shock to the head upon contact with the fence. A person with a heart condition, especially someone who wears a pacemaker, has a higher risk of becoming unconscious than a healthy person would. The risk increases when the head or neck touches the electrified wire says the Government of South Australia. To avoid a head-to-fence contact, either climb over the fence or find a way to walk around it. Be extra careful when you see an electric fence near water, steep hillsides and cliffs.
Cardiac Arrest and Cardiac Fibrillation
According to TechNews, there’s a slim chance that a person in contact with an electric fence could suffer from cardiac arrest (unexpected loss of heart function) or cardiac fibrillation (incoordinate twitching of the heart muscle fibers). Synchronizing the electric fence’s energizers and pulsing with each other properly may prevent cardiac arrest and cardiac fibrillation.
Loss of Muscle Control
Improperly installed electric fences with high amperage can cause electric shocks that result in loss of muscle control. According to the Health and Safety Executive of Great Britain, electric shock can cause painful muscle spasms that can break bones and dislocate joints.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors says that lightning can cause electric fence fires and malfunction. Disconnecting the controller from the fence line and the power source before a storm hits or a lightning strikes can minimize lightning dangers. Divert the lightning strike’s electricity to the earth before it damages the fence controller by installing lightning arrestor between the fence and controller. Avoid placing flammable items near your electric fence. Cutting down vegetation brushes nearby will also lessen the risk of fire.
- Department of Justice, Government of Tasmania: Electric Fences Workplace Standards
- International Association of Certified Home Inspectors: Electric Fences May Cause Fire
- TechNews: Home Security Electric Fences can Cause Cardiac Arrest and Cardiac Fibrillation
- Health and Safety Executive, Government of Great Britain: Electric Injuries