Safety measures in your ham radio shack

The ham should keep his wireless equipment in a protected place, so that, it can not be operated by the unauthorized persons in his absence. All the equipment should be properly installed and precaution should be taken so that they don’t create electrical hazards. For this and the safety of the other people in the house, equipment should have proper ground connection (an alternative path to the Earth). Though the switch board sockets have the facility to insert a three pin electrical plug (the male plug from our equipment), the wire connecting to the ground from the third hole of the socket may remain disconnected somewhere without our knowledge.


This may create a risk to your life because the electrical equipment’s current carrying wires are vulnerable to insulation breakdown due to many reasons. Under such circumstances, if a current carrying wire touches the metallic portion of the equipment, current will start flowing in that portion also. Under such a situation, if we touch an electrical gadget housed in a metallic enclosure, we may get electrocuted as well! In fact electrical currents seek for the paths of low resistance. In the above situation, if we are bare footed, then these electrical currents will find their easiest path to the Earth (Ground) through our body and simulate a close circuit situation. Our body will heat up (because the human body too offers resistance to the flow of current) and we will die! In a different situation where the metallic portion of the electrical gadget is properly grounded with the help of a good conducting wire (e.g. copper), even if we touch the current carrying metallic portion, most of the current will flow through that grounded copper wire only causing less damage to our body. A part of the current will still find their path to the ground through our body because we are still bare footed! So the highest safety measure is to wear shoes made of insulated material (which do not conduct electricity) and keep us separated from the ground (the Earth).


In this situation, even if we accidentally touch the current carrying metallic portion of the electrical gadget, current will not able to find their path in to the ground through our body and we shall remain safe. In no case, the ‘phase’ (current carrying) and ‘neutral’ wires should be touched by your hand simultaneously. Doing so will create the most potential risk to your life, because, current from ‘phase’ to ‘neutral’ will now flow from one hand to the other hand (if you use both your hands to touch the ‘phase’ and ‘neutral’ !) through your body and you will be getting killed in the process!


So, always:

Check for proper ground connection in the electrical wiring of the house.

If possible connect an extra conducting wire to the ground (you can tightly tie the wire on to a water pipe) from the metallic enclosure of the electrical gadget.

Don’t touch electrical gadgets with wet hand. Water reduces the resistance of the skin of our body and as a result electrical currents find their easy entry into our body!

Always wear insulated shoes (rubber, plastic etc.)

A dry wooden board can be kept on the floor which will provide additional insulation.

The electrical device should have a ‘fuse’ as per the current rating of the device. For example, if the equipment is designed to allow a current of 5 ampere, the ‘fuse’ should also be rated 5 ampere. Any more current due to short circuit will blow the fuse and inactivate the equipment. This will prevent further damage of the equipment and other electrical wiring will remain safe.

There should be a main switch (called the “Big Switch”!) at your easy reach. While closing down your ham radio operation, this switch should be pulled to disconnect all the equipment at the same time. That is why, in ham terminology, many operator’s use the phrase “Pulling the Big Switch” to indicate that he is closing down his station!

Nowadays, miniature circuit breaker switches (MCB) are also available. This type of switches provide safety to the electrical gadgets connected to the electrical sockets by automatically disconnecting them from the current in the event of a short circuit in the electrical wiring.

Don’t touch the aerial of your wireless equipment while
transmission is going on.