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Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Member
I would like to get some feedback on the following advice that is given to a Home Inspector:

Quote
When you first touch the main electrical panel, do it by tapping the panel with the back of your hand. If it is hot, the shock will then knock you away rather than freezing you onto it.

I was never taught to use this method!


Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant
Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 697
D
Member
I heard this advice from the Frugal Gourmet on checking a hot frying pan!

Dave

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,143
D
Member
I heard that one as a youngster from a plumber who was rodding the drain in my parent's basement - circa 1986 or so.

He used to connect all his plugs, and operate all his switches "backhanded", under the belief that, if your arm muscles involuntarily contract with your palm towards you, they would pull back towards the center of the body, rather than pressing the hand against the energized surface, as would supposedly happen with the palm away from you.

In the fire service, we check doors for heat using the back of our hands for three reasons - first, because the back of the hand is more sensitve to heat/cold (less callouses, scars, etc; secondly because the pain generated by a really hot door will cause you to flinch, and your arm seems to pull away faster palm-in; and third, because you can still use your hand to write / drive / grasp stuff if the back of it is burned checking a "too hot" door for heat! [Linked Image]

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
P
Member
I think if I had reason to suspect that the panel might be hot I'd rather check with a meter than just brushing it with the back of my hand.

But that said, this is a "technique" I've heard mentioned in the past from various sources.

Joined: May 2004
Posts: 28
C
Member
After grabing to open a couple of times and being bit hard, once causing me to rip my finger open, I will stick with my brushing with the back of my hand across a panel etc verses grabing to open right away any day....it only takes one time with the right conditions for someone to get hurt...not saying this is a great way to check something out, but even a good looking system can bite u...do any of yall ever get calls for repair where the lady or guy says, every time i go to flip a breaker or change a fuse, the door bites them???? i get many of these a year.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 11
J
Member
First heard this one in the mid 60's

Better one was anactual electrical work practices book from the early 1900's had a step by step procedure for checking voltage with your fingers.

A friend has the book and I'm looking for a copy


Jim Humphrey
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,437
Member
I can't say I've ever heard of this before??? If I had any inkling that something might be energized like this,(signs of arcing around conduit entries/fittings etc..) first thing I'd do is a hotstick test for EMF... then wiggy the metal to ground to see if stray voltage is present... Although if you were wearing proper gloves, you couldn't do the "back of the hand" trick.... You wouldn't have to [Linked Image]

-Randy

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 717
G
Member
Joe,
I've always taught my apprentices to energize with their legs facing AWAY from the switch. When an 'event' happens, your first instinct is to run. If you are pointed into your work, your tendency is to run INTO it, not away. I've seen several guys not go home because of this, seems like a fair practice.

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,389
S
Member
the 'backhand' method, was one of the first things the old timers taught me

it shouldn't surprise anyone here that some electrical installations are in such deacy as to utilize such precautions should it?

~S~

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 228
J
Member
One other reason I see to check with the back of your hand rather than a finger or two is if it is hot you take away the risk of the muscles in your hand contracting and not being able to let go of whatever is hot.

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