Can clicking digital camera with flash near high voltage wire cause burn?

By dhirengupta ·
Can clicking a digital camera with flash on near a high voltage electerical wire cause current to pass through the body and burn the body of the camera holder?

This is part of email sent to me and others and I want to know the truth, scientific evidence and veracity of the incident, whether it is scientifically possible or just another bundle of lies doing round the corners.

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All Answers

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You don't need the camera for that to happen ...

by OldER Mycroft In reply to Can clicking digital came ...

Try taking a fluorescent tube with you, the next time you go walking under some high-voltage pylons after dark.

Stand immediately under the high-voltage lines where they meet the lowest point of their arc with the ground.

Your moment of fame looking like Darth Vader is now only seconds away - or just have a look at these photos.

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Reponse To Answer

by dcolbert Contributor In reply to You don't need the camera ...

A comment from the site linked to above:

"Ugh. He???s using ???waste??? power. By setting up fluorescent tubes near power lines he has caused them to be inductively coupled to those power lines. Meaning they???re drawing their power from the lines just as they would if they were plugged in directly - but far less efficiently. I???m not even going to bother with the throwaway line about ???the potential dangers of power lines???.
Your geek card is officially revoked."

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For specific emails

by seanferd In reply to Can clicking digital came ...

check at

I don't find anything related by searching "high voltage" though. If the email has a title or such, search that.

Can't see what a camera would have to do with it much - being really close to high-voltage wires can get you zapped regardless. But I <i>suppose</i>, being just close enough, plus the discharge from the camera, could allow enough ionization to cause current to seek ground through the camera. Seems like a "just-so" story, though.

Any further information you want from us in particular, post the text of the email.

This is hilarious, if dangerous (and not really related):

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Complete email I received from Paritosh

by dhirengupta In reply to For specific emails

Dear All,

With deep pains (and tears in my eyes), one accident took place in
Mumbai with Mr. Aditya Suresh Josh, age 19, studying in 1st year of
engineering, died in Keshvani Hospital, Mumbai. He was admitted in
Keshavani Hospital as burned patient.


4 days back this boy had gone to Amravati (One of the district place
located in State of Maharashtra) on study tour. After their study was
over, he, his classmates & his teachers, all of them were standing on
"Badnera" railway station to catch the train. "Badnera" is the name of
the railway station for "Amravati" city.

As soon as they arrived on Badnera Railway station, many of them
started taking pictures of their friends using "Mobile Phones" and/or
"Digital Camera". One of them complained that, in his camera, he was
not able to capture more number of friends in one frame. He was not
able to catch the angle. Another boy suggested that let's climb on
train boogie and take picture so that all of them can be accommodated
in single frame.

At that there was one goods wagon (all of them were oil tankers) train
resting between 2 main railway lines.

Kumar Aditya climbed up oil boogie. Above his head, 40,000 volts
electrical line was passing through. As soon as he clicked the digital
camera? 40,000 volt current passed through the camera flash light to
his camera and then from his camera to his fingers and then from his
fingers to his body. All this happened within fraction of minutes.
Next moment he was thrown from the top. His body was half burned on
the spot.

At that time, his father (my friend) was traveling in Bangkok. His
many friends in Pune came to know about this via mobile SMS. They
instantly arranged air ambulance in Amravati and his burned body was
brought to Keshavani Hospital, Mumbai. i was told that this is the
best hospital in Mumbai. For 1 and 1/2 day or so he was talking to his
relatives. When he was admitted to the hospital, at that time only,
doctor informed his relatives that don't keep great hopes. Because of
lot of complex issues in half burned body? He died yesterday morning.

Now how many of us are aware about this technological threats &
dangers? Honestly, Kumar Aditya and his father was not aware. His
family was not aware. Our entire friend circle of more than 12,000, we
were not aware. Now should we call ourselves as fully educated and
fully knowledgeable people? Think of it. Please avoid mobile phones on
petrol outlets. Please avoid talking on mobile phones while driving. i
also know many of my friends who do not bother about this good
suggestion and each one of them have opted for "Chalta Hai Yaar
Attitude". Please avoid talking on mobile phones while they are in
charging mode. Avoid charging mobile phones near Your bed and/or near
wooden furniture. Avoid mobile phones near high voltage electrical
lines like railway stations and avoid using flash lights. My friend,
his family members and we all friends learned our lesson with loss of
young life. Now Would You like to empower Your friends about this
accident so as to avoid future accidents? We can save human life by
empowering all the IT users who are in Your network?

thanking you

Paritosh Kumar

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by santeewelding In reply to Complete email I received ...

Welcome to young, dumb, and stupid.

I share no anguish with you whatsoever. Nor, do I share your wish for sharing same.

Lean too far over and you will fall.

If you are ignorant of the oldest in the books, good luck.

I remain uninvolved in your grief.

Take a number.

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I'll bet Elvis and Michael Jackson were in the crowd too! ...

by OldER Mycroft In reply to Complete email I received ...

What a moron you are, mate!

You start off with what appears to be a genuinely ill-educated query as to whether a camera flash can bring about any form of danger from overhead power lines.

Then you post some gormless bloke's email wherein he describes some equally hapless numpty who climbed ON TOP of rolling stock in order to fit some cretins into a framed photo-shot. That was really clever!!

This author of the original email - does he, by any chance, have electro-magnetic shutters on his eyes??!! Does he have HIGH-SPEED VISION?? "Above his head, 40,000 volts electrical line was passing through. As soon as he clicked the digital camera? 40,000 volt current passed through the camera flash light to his camera and then from his camera to his fingers and then from his fingers to his body. All this happened within fraction of minutes."

Actually - all this would've happened in a fraction of a second! A bit like this:

How your eagle-eyed friend was able to capture in detail, the arcing motion of the current, which entry point it 'chose' first - the flash THEN into the camera THEN into the fingers THEN into the body - this is all great stuff. I can just see the CGI that'll be employed when this is made into the next blockbusting Bollywood film, the slo-mo techniques for watching in minute detail as the 40,000 volts courses through the described route.

Personally, from what I know of the misuse of Carbon Arc Lighting, you cannot SEE anything - all you get is a blinding flash and lots of sparks and bits of burning flesh.

I'd also hazard a guess that your loquacious pal knew it was 40,000 VOLTS because of all the DANGER!! 40,000 VOLTS OVERHEAD POWER LINES!! warning signs plastered around the area in vivid colours.

One final salient point, if I may be so bold. WTF has some kid frying himself on top of some rolling stock, holding a camera, under WARNED ABOUT overhead power lines - have to do with using a mobile phone?????

Wake up and smell the coffee!

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by isuzu803 In reply to Complete email I received ...

Sir, it is a known fact that high voltage can jump several feet. If humidity and other factors are in line. Eletric current can jump more than 20ft. In 1 video I viewded of a man dieing on top of a train. The power lines were less than 10ft over-head. We learned these things the hardway, when 2 firefighters were lost on a Snorkel Truck. It is bealieved that the power jumped almost 40ft. Killing 2 men and turning 1 Snorkel truck to ash.

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Reponse To Answer

by manishyadav In reply to For specific emails

Dear All
I Want Share Some Facts About Indian Railway Regarding This Indecent.Indian Railway Works On Two Operation Mumbai Sub-urban 1500Volts DC,Other 25kv AC,How these Boys Comes under 40kv(40,000).If i supposed Grid Line Of Indian Railway it works on 133kv & cross Through min 93.6 feet(Standard) Tower.
Another Fact :- esp Of Indian Railway 25kv traction is 5cm...

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Can Voltage / current travel through Flash light

by vishal kamdi In reply to Can clicking digital came ...

I think this thing is not possible
1) because sun light is already falling on it and it does not harm person standing under a 400 KV line
2) For current to carry it should pass through air and air has sufficient resistance to block it
3)In esp we need 4KV (dc)to ionize 1 cm ,so 400KV may ionize 400 cm or may be 5 to 600 cm

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Wow, great thread

by robo_dev In reply to Can clicking digital came ...

It does not mention exactly how close he was to the 40KV power line.

Obviously a camera is no more conductive than his wristwatch, ring, or metal eyeglasses, so the moral of the story is that it's a bad idea to stand on top of trains near high-tension wires (duh). It's not all that uncommon for electric trains with overhead power lines to arc to the chassis of the train every once in awhile.

Surely he was a boy with great potential, a well-grounded individual.

I would guess that maybe this darwin-award-nominee rested his hand on the wire to balance himself as he stood up to take the photo?

How, exactly, did he even climb up onto the train? That's like ten feet up, other passengers would likely yell/scream for him to get the $%$$$ off of there, not to mention the transit security, conductor, station master, etc. It was mentioned that it was an oil tanker.

In most train yards there is something like a ten-foot chain-link fence topped with razor wire to keep idiots like this out, and a passenger train station typically would have the platforms in the middle, such that the guy would have to jump down (about five feet) off the platform, cross the (active) passenger train tracks, scale a ten-foot tall chain link fence with razor wire on top, then climb up about 15 feet into the air onto an oil tank car.

In the time it took to do all that, the passenger train surely would have arrived, and presumably some of these students might have a life and need to go home.

Of course, many electric trains here in the states use a third-rail on the ground, and if the (victim) were perhaps laying down taking a closeup photo of the third rail using a macro lens, there *might* be the chance that an arc could goto the camera lens, and therefore cause electrocution. Of course this ignores the risk of being eaten by rats or run over by a train, neither of which would not be happy endings to the story.

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