Static electricity usually is no more than bothersome, but it actually can be harmful. Computers, cell phones, photocopiers and other electronics can be damaged by static electricity.
To help us better understand static electricity and how to prevent it, JoAnne Boston, business development manager of Crown Mats offers the following answers to some common questions about static electricity:
What causes static electric shocks? – Static electricity is an electrical charge trapped on the surface of an object. The charge remains until it is allowed to escape to an object with a weaker or opposite electrical charge. Often these shocks are too small to notice until they reach or surpass 2,000 volts.
Why do I get shocks when I touch a door knob or filing cabinet? – Most shoes have insulating rubber or plastic soles. As we walk, a static charge can build up on these soles, which can generate an electrical charge on our bodies. This charge is released when we touch a door knob, metal filing cabinet or a variety of other objects.
Why do I get shocks when I get up from a chair? – When we sit in a chair, the contact between our clothes and the chair can generate an electrostatic charge on our clothes. This “body voltage” remains low until we get up from the chair. It is released when we touch another item.
How can I prevent static shocks? – A good way to prevent static electric shocks is to raise the humidity in your home or office using a humidifier. Also, wearing shoes with leather soles can help. However, in workplaces with electronic machinery, the best option is to install anti-static mats over hard surface floors. These mats have a conductive material that collects static, helping to prevent the buildup of electric charge and minimizing or removing static.