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Zap! Crackle! Pop!

Have you ever been zapped by an electric fence? Ouch. That hurts. But being hit by a Taser is much worse. Way worse.

The most powerful electric fences out there, the ones used to keep polar bears from eating the visitors, are only 10,000 volts max. The typical electric fence at a farm is much less.

Electric chairs run at around 2,000 volts.

In comparison, Taser guns pump wave after wave of 50,000 painful volts through flesh and bone. And it’s not fun being on the receiving end. I found that out the hard way Monday morning.

Deputies with Island County Sheriff’s Department took turns getting tasered during a training session. These grown men, tough cops who carry weapons and wrestle bad guys, yelled out loud and writhed in agony like little boys having tantrums at Wal-Mart.

So after watching their display, I figured I’d give it a try.

The anticipation is bad. But the jolt is much worse. While others described the experience as “severe discomfort,” I thought it just hurt like heck.

I could definitely feel the waves of electricity coursing through my body for two seconds that seemed to go on for minutes. I could feel my body moving involuntarily. I’m sure I made a stupid-looking face. But then it was over and I felt fine, okey-dokey, except a little tired out.

Of course, Tasers aren’t dangerous. If you remember high school physics, it’s not the voltage that kills you, it’s the amperage. The Tasers only have 0.162 amps, which isn’t enough to damage the human body.

Amps are a measure of current electric flow and literally equate to the number of electrons flowing through a circuit. It’s these traveling electrons that can heat up and destroy cells in a body. Current is “drawn” from a supply of power due to the presence of a voltage being placed across a load. Voltage is sort of like “pressure” that pushed the electrons. It’s also what incapacitates a person by screwing with his or her neuromuscular signals.

Electric chairs have 6 or 7 amps, which is what kills the condemned.

The experience made me kind of wonder about a guy like Detective Ed Wallace, who is certified as a Taser instructor. He’s been tasered four times during training, including once for the full five seconds. He says it’s “not that bad.”

Maybe I’m just a wimp. Nevertheless, my advice to any potential criminals out there is to behave around deputies. Do what they say, don’t take PCP and walk the streets naked, and don’t try sucker-punching them.

You don’t want to find out what five seconds of electronic misery is like.

Community Events, April 2014

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