Can electricity flow through the hair

Electricity in the bathroom - what dangers are actually lurking?

You should heed our tips so that the hair dryer in the bathroom can continue to do this job.

It shouldn't be news for you that electricity and water don't go very well with each other. Therefore, caution is advised, especially in the bathroom, as there is hardly any other room in the household where electricity and water are so close. But is it really that dangerous? Do we really need to be careful with electrical appliances in the bathroom, or aren't modern appliances protected from water anyway? We explain which dangers actually lurk - and how you can protect yourself from them.

Can electricity be dangerous in the bathroom?

The rich, young beauty takes a bath with relish, while the villain sneaks up from behind - and insidiously slips a blow dryer into the water. Sparks spray, the water begins to boil and smoke, the fuse pops out, it gets dark. A little later the light comes on again - and the former beauty lies lifeless in the water, while the villain escapes with the stolen jewelry. Something like that you know it from numerous books and films. But does that correspond to reality? Can electricity in the bathroom really be dangerous - in the worst case even fatal?

The fact is: the risk of electric shock is significantly greater in the bathroom than anywhere else. The high humidity, walking barefoot and wet skin after showering reduce resistance and thus facilitate the flow of electricity through the human body. There is therefore a potential risk of electric shock in the bathroom and can definitely be classified as dangerous.

Three protection areas in the bathroom

Therefore, special precautionary measures apply in the bathroom. When installing electronic devices and components such as sockets and lamps, care is taken to keep certain protected areas around the water sources, i.e. the shower, tub and wash basin, clear. So if you plan your house from scratch or extensively renovate your bathroom and lay new power lines, you need to be extra careful here and stick to some protection areas when positioning.

Protection area 0 defines the space within the shower or bathtub. Why should electricity be needed here, you ask yourself? To make bathing particularly pleasant, it can be part of your lighting concept to install lights in the bathtub. The light is dimmed by the water and creates a unique atmosphere. Here you are only allowed to use lamps with a protective extra-low voltage of 12 volts, in addition they must be marked with the degree of protection IPX8. The degree of protection generally determines the suitability of electrical devices in certain environments, the X stands for water protection.

Protection area 1 is the space immediately above or below your shower, bathtub or washbasin. Here you must also use lamps with protective extra-low voltage and degree of protection IPX7.

in theProtection area 2, which extends protection area 1 by 60 centimeters in all directions, the lamps usually only come into contact with spray water. Therefore, the lower degree of protection IPX4 is sufficient for these luminaires.

It must also be ensured that all accessible parts of conductive devices are included in what is known as equipotential bonding. These are mainly the pipes in your bathroom, i.e. heating pipes, water pipes and gas pipes. These are connected to the main earthing rail via a grounded protective conductor and thus take the voltage off the lines - so that you do not get an electric shock if you touch them. If you adhere to these areas and standards, your bathroom is already set up safely in these cases.

Where to place the sockets in the bathroom?

Sockets are of course indispensable in the bathroom. Straighteners, electric toothbrushes and the like also want to be operated and used. But where should you place the socket? And what protection from water do they need? In any case, you should make sure that an RCD circuit breaker (also called FI circuit breaker) is connected in front of the household fuse in your fuse box. If not, subsequent installation is mandatory and required by law! Put simply, the circuit breaker checks whether the same amount of current that flows into the consumer also flows back. It registers the smallest irregularities and switches off the power in a split second if in doubt. The circuit breaker does this faster than the usual household fuse, which usually only protects the power lines from overload, but does not protect you or your children and pets from an electric shock.

In addition, conventional sockets and switches must be positioned outside the protected areas, i.e. at least 60 centimeters away from any water source. There are special models for sockets within the protected areas, which of course also have to meet the specific protection requirements such as IPX8. However, should water ever get into the sockets, this is usually not dangerous for you. The RCD circuit breaker registers the difference, interrupts the power supply - and all you have to do is reinsert the circuit breaker and fuses in your fuse box. Our tip for you: If necessary, enclose your sockets in the bathroom with a suitable cupboard or use sockets with a water protection flap. This will minimize the risk of the socket coming into contact with water spray.

What about the hair dryer now?

But what about small electrical appliances such as hairdryers, straighteners or the plugged-in smartphone? Can you safely use them in the bath? All of these devices are connected by a power pack to a socket and thus to the RCD circuit breaker. If the hair dryer falls into the water, the current finds its way through the bath water to the pipes, via which it is then diverted into the ground. The RCD switch detects the loss of power via the earth and switches off the power at lightning speed. But since you are also sitting in the water through which the current flows when you bathe, you are exposed to the current for a few milliseconds. Just 200 milliseconds are enough to cause you serious injuries. As a rule, the RCD switch trips beforehand and cuts the current - but there is always a residual risk.

How the situation can end if you have not installed an RCD circuit breaker is similar in effect to the Hollywood scenario above - but without the special effects. Grounding the bathtub creates a new electrical circuit in the bathwater itself, so the hair dryer continues to run underwater. The problem with this is that they are part of the electrical circuit in the water itself - and that is fatal in most cases, despite the relatively low 50 Hertz electricity that is common in households!

The RCD circuit breaker for maximum safety in the bathroom

So you notice that a bathroom without an installed circuit breaker borders on gross negligence. It is not for nothing that this is required by law. It actually helps save lives. Nevertheless, we strongly advise you not to use hairdryers, straighteners and the like in and near the bathtub, as injuries are still possible. Always consult an expert for safety when working in the bathroom! Only he can advise you optimally and draw your attention to possible special features in your bathroom.

PS: Tablets, smartphones and e-readers can be used safely in the bathtub as long as no charging cable is connected. The built-in battery is too weak to cause serious harm to you while bathing. Whether involuntary bathing is good for your smartphone or tablet is another matter.