I keep getting shocked

My employer got me a handy-dandy electric wheelchair and had a few door-opener buttons installed to facilitate my movement about the office. Yay. However, after zipping around for a few minutes, when I touch someone or something I get a shock. Most of the time it’s just annoying but sometimes it really hurts.

I figure it’s like when I was a kid and I delighted in scuffing my feet on the carpet and shocking people. Now I’ve got six litte feet (ie, wheels) scuffing on the carpet everywhere I go. What can I do to prevent the static electricity from building up? How can I keep from getting shocked?

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

The Kat House
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Several years ago (okay early 90’s) I worked for a company where we had some nice pile carpet installed in our offices.

In the winter time, with the heaters running, shock was soo common we searched and searched as to how to fix this.

We ended up spraying a mixture of fabric softener and water a couple of times a day, throughout the office’s carpeting.

I don’t know if this will help you, but we noticed a considerable difference in “shock value”.

It’s probably a combination of the rubber on your wheelchair and the electric box…but maybe this will be a cheap solution to this!

You can buy an inexpensive static discharger that you can attach to your wheelchair.

Problem solved.

IIRC, there was some model of automobile (a Honda, I think) that had this same problem on a larger scale; the tires installed at the factory tended to create a big static charge on the car and it’s passengers as it rolled down the road, and as a result, toll booth operators came to dread the approach of said model car. The solution for the auto maker was to use tires with a different rubber compound in them. I imagine that getting different tires for your chair could be tougher, though.

Maybe you could get or improvise some sort of grounding strap - a thin metal chain, attached to the metal frame of your chair, that drags on the floor at all times. Semi trailers that carry flamable fluids like gasoline often have such a chain, for the same reason. Since you have carpet in your office though, this might not work, although it can’t hurt to try.

Maybe the carpet could be treated with different (anti-static) chemicals when it’s cleaned.

Maybe there’s some anti-static treatment for the tires.

Or who knows, maybe you CAN get different tires - I don’t know wheelchairs from a hole in the ground.

Maybe it’s not the wheels-on-carpet friction that causes the static buildup; maybe it’s the cloth-on-cloth friction of your clothes on the chair. That’s the case with my chair at work, which gives me quite a charge from the least little shifting. In that case, some anti-static laundry spray on the seat and back of the chair could make a difference, at least for a little while. I know people who have this problem with their cars’ seats, and the spray fixes the problem for a few days.

Before mucking about with the insides of a computer (which is a really bad place to have a static shock), I generally touch a faucet or some other ground with a key or a coin. The spark jumps from metal to metal, and unless the spark is quite a doozy, I can’t even feel it. Maybe as a last resort you could carry a metal pen (something you need in the office anyhow) with you, and touch grounded things with the pen first.

Maybe someone else can offer something more specific.

I’m going to have my daughter try the key thing. For some reason, she is always charged up. I have actually heard her get zapped when she got out on the other side of the car!

The funny thing is when the cats go to “kiss” her and get their noses shocked!

I think Lagged2Death’s grounding strap (is this the same thing WallyM7 is talking 'bout?) is worth a shot. That’s what I would have suggested.

Also, try the following once, just to make sure that your electric wheelchair does not have a short:
Discharge yourself, and right after discharge… don’t move at all for a few minutes. Then touch the object you originally touched. If there is a spark at this point, suspect a short. This is probably a very remote possibility, but is still possible.

Things are random only insofar as we don’t understand them.

Id get the static strip. You can get it for your car too. It grounds the chair.

Or just ride around & then visit your boss, shake his hand, see how he jumps? Im sure he would get the strip for ya pronto…

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone :slight_smile: I asked our supply guy here at work if he could get me a static strip (seemed like a good place to start since it’s more or less work related and I’ve always heard static and computers don’t mix) but he said there’s nothing like that in the catalog, so I’ll try Radio Shack or someplace like that next. I don’t think it’s a malfunction or short in the chair because it only happens when I’ve been rolling around on the carpeting. Sections of this building also has marble flooring and I usually have no shock (or a very mild one at worst) after rolling around there for a while.

Thanks again :slight_smile:

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

The Kat House
Join the FSH Muscular Dystrophy Webring

Before I spend money on a static discharger, do you think a chain of paper clips would work? I’ve got lots of those in my cubicle :slight_smile:

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

The Kat House
Join the FSH Muscular Dystrophy Webring

It should work as well as any grounding strip. Awesome idea. I’d have suggested getting a chain at a hardware store but your solution is more elegant.

I wonder if it may be just your body getting charged up though. While sitting on the wheelchair, if you touch the metal part of the wheelchair, would you get a shock?

I’ll bet the wheelchair Mfgr has a ground strap. Try fabric softener sheets too.Your paperclip idea will probably work well enough to see if it will fix the problem.
They used to make a static discharge strap for cars. I’ve got one.
The old belt driven farm equipment had a static problem. They would drag a chain to discharge

The paper clip thing would do it if they are NOT coated. ALso, some are going to snag on the rug…

Thank you everyone!!!

I did it, I made a grounding chain out of paper clips and I haven’t been shocked since! Thanks for the suggestion! I love you all!

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

The Kat House
Join the FSH Muscular Dystrophy Webring

Gr8Kat, you’re a genius! Chain of paper clips. I don’t know why, but when I read that, I busted out laughing. And it works too!

In another life, were you Thomas Edison?

Congrats for finding the cure.
Instead of using a chain try a piece of Christmas tree garland. It will work ok to discharge the static electricity and provide a neat accessory to the chair. Heck maybe someone will start putting christmas presents under you. :wink: