Istvan Banyai for Reader's Digest
The Fear: If you stick a fork or a bobby pin in one of the sockets, you’ll be electrocuted.
The Reality: If you stick something in one of the sockets, you could get a nasty shock. The left slot is connected to the neutral wire, the right is connected to the hot one, and electricity flows from hot to neutral. Sticking something into either slot will disrupt the flow and send it into you. This happens on a surprisingly frequent basis: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that 5,500 people went to the emergency room in 2015 with injuries from outlets. If you have newer outlets, they’re safer. The National Electrical Code requires new kitchen countertop outlets (and some others) to be ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets, which quickly shut the current off if there’s an imbalance—because some of the current is leaking into you. But you may still get zapped.
Will It Kill You? It might. A jolt from a standard 120-volt outlet could trigger cardiac arrest.