An electrician told today in a conversation that 10-60 KV high power lines have a passive property of attracting (pulling towards them) physical objects (e.g. a human body), and that’s what makes them especially dangerous.

  1. How accurate was his statement? If it was false, 2. what real fact he could’ve possibly misunderstood into such a misconception?

I know that the current can “hold” someone in place when they are being electrocuted, and I guess it may also be explained by static electricity but trying to find anything about this phenomenon is returning nothing.


You are familiar with the concept of static electricity. When you have a DC line with many thousands of volts on it, there will be a polarizing effect, and that will attract things to it - especially dielectrics.

Now if your piece of paper is thus attracted to the line, and you try to grab it, it is quite possible that you get peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) from the change in electric field, and that this could result in involuntary muscle movements.

Finally, if your hand does touch a high voltage conductor, chances are very good that your hand will "cramp" onto it (because all your muscles will fire, but the muscles closing your hand are stronger than the ones opening it). I have seen that happen to a colleague and it is not pretty.

ALWAYS make sure the power is off, and use lock-out tag-out (LOTO): in other words, put a lock on the power switch so someone else can't turn it back on while you are working. Electricity is useful, but it can kill.

  • $\begingroup$ Just to make sure: does this mean that a power-line will also be able to attract a human body (much larger object than a piece of paper), like a gravitational pull? Also, will it be able to pull a body towards itself from meters away? $\endgroup$ – Imfego Nov 9 '14 at 7:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Imfego Of course not. Moreover humans aren't exactly dielectrics. Do you see three leaves attracted by power lines ? $\endgroup$ – TZDZ Nov 18 '14 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ Just to add to @TZDZ's comment - most power lines are AC which makes them less likely to attract objects with net charge; and no, power lines will not attract humans from a long distance away. $\endgroup$ – Floris Nov 18 '14 at 12:49

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