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carolb wrote:

> Any ideas on how to avoid being zapped when I touch anything
> metal, such as a handrail, a locker, a car door, etc. in this
> cold weather? :(
> And why is it only in cold weather that this happens?
> Thanks,
> Carol

Low humidity is the reason things are different in winter. But it's not that the build-up of the charge only happens in cold weather/low humidity. We are building up electrical potential from the same sources all the time. At higher levels of humdity it just 'bleeds off' into the air because the air (when humid) can conduct a little bit of electricty. At extremely low humidity levels, such as in contemporary 'forced air' heated buildings, the usual 'automatic' discharge doesn't happen because the humidity is just too low and so you get a much bigger and noticeable spark when you finally get close enough to something that can conduct the electrical potential you have accumulated.

The most comprehensive solution is a home humidifier. :) For spaces that you don't control, like an office, I have heard of some people deliberately grounding themselves with some sort of 'tether'. It might be one of those wrist-straps designed specifically to keep computer techs from zapping the stuff they are working on, or it might be a make-shift like a chain of paper-clips dragging from a pant-cuff that someone claimed to have created. I guess that would work on the same principle as the chain you see dangling from some large trucks. If that works for humans on foot, maybe there ought to be a commercial product out there somewhere... :)

Like ancient Rome, we today are once more importing every form of exotic superstition in the hope of finding the right remedy for our sickness.
-- C. G. Jung
Richard Wilhelm: In Memoriam (1930), CW 15: pg. 60

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