What is an ARC Flash?
ARC flashes are a result of electric current leaving the intended path and finding an alternative conductor. This might be a small jump to a close component or a larger jump to the ground or a human in proximity. Whatever path the current decides to take the results are usually very violent and can easily cause severe burns and even death.
Results of an ARC flash
Electricity does not like to jump and it takes a huge amount of energy for this to happen. This energy will be released aggressively in the form of heat, light, atmospheric pressure and a charge. The results from an ARC flash are significant and act like an explosion.
- Burns/heat – heat upwards of 35,000-degree f 4 times hotter than our biggest star, although this happens for a very brief time because the temperature is so hot it instantly vaporises whatever is in its immediate vicinity. Surrounding material is melted or burnt.
- Blast pressure – Just like a bomb the velocity of the air surrounding the ARC flash is acceleration to a point where it can cause internal damage or throw you across the room depending on your proximity to the incident.
- Projectiles – The blast pressure will easily project small objects and debris, accelerating them upward of 500 miles per hour. Droplets of molten metal could also be projected and these can easily penetrate the body.
- Sound blast – We know sound waves are vibrations in air, we know from the points above there are some major air changes linked to an ARC flash and as such the noise can be as loud as a jet engine. Upwards of 140DB even short term exposure to this level of noise can cause permanent damage.