In the US we spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not things are safe. Each and every time a person is hurt, it seems a new law is developed to address what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Things are a bit different in India. As far as I can tell there are no building codes, no electrical codes, and no regard for safety whatsoever. To illustrate this point, I would like to present some pictures taken from around my house and my complex. Keep in mind, these are only from the community we live in. None of these pictures are taken from outside my gate. (one was taken from my community of something outside, but I’ll highlight that one in the next post.) Outside my little gated world, things are much MUCH worse.
Let’s discuss the electricity for a moment, shall we? First of all, the power here is not always on. In thesummer there are rolling blackouts. From noon to 4 each day, you could expect the power to be shut off. Summer ended, and so did the regular rolling blackouts, only to be replaced by completely random blackouts. Now the power goes off any old time it wants, and may stay off 5 minutes or 2 hours. It gets really old, but judging by the quality of the wiring, a blackout is probably the safest time to be in your home…
Here, the outlets are all 220. Though I have a very limited knowledge of voltage, amperage and the like, I have an inkling that 220 is double the output of the 110 back home. Therefore, it stands to reason that things like GFI outlets near the sinks and proper grounding would be a must. WRONG. Here is my sink. Notice that the outlet is an ordinary old outlet. AND, notice that the cord for my water purifier snakes up through a hole in the cupboard to the outlet, and that the cord is regularly drenched with water from the sink.
The outlets themselves are quite an interesting phenomenon. Here you can take a tour of the different types available in my house. There are SEVERAL different types of plugs used in India. As you can see from the outlet pictures, not every plug will fit into every outlet.
In addition, each outlet has the larger single hole on top which is for the ground, however, precious few plugs come with this 3rd prong. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that each outlet is equipped with some sort of “safety” feature that requires a prong to first be inserted into the ground in order for a little plastic piece inside to move up and make room for the other two prongs to fit in. So, trying to plug the majority of plugs in requires us to first
insert something (usually a pen) into the ground hole to move the plastic and allow insertion of the plug. So, if this is a safety feature, it seems to have the opposite effect, causing people to actually stick other things in the outlets besides the plugs.
As you can see from the pictures, there is one comforting thing. Each outlet also comes equipped with its own switch. Every outlet in the house is switchable, some with a light to tell you whether it is on or off at the moment. This helps when you are about to stick a pen in it, but I certainly wouldn’t count on the fact that the power actually does go off….
Would you like a fan in your shower? Well, then certainly you won’t mind that the junction box resides in the shower stall where it can easily get spashed on and the fan cord is hanging out in the open on the shower wall.
Recently, I have learned of another phenomenon that I need to be aware of. I picked up my laptop the other day, and I felt a shock. I adjusted it in my lap, and sure enough, shocked again! I gave a little squeal as I moved my hands under it and got zapped a third time, and Scott asked me what was wrong. “The laptop is shocking me!” I yelled as I put dropped it on the bed. “Oh really?” Scott asked, laughing. “Yes, really!” “Yeah, that happens to me occasionally too,” he stated. “It’s something with the grounding of the house. The guys at work say its very common here. Just don’t touch the screws on the bottom and you’ll be fine.” I feel so much better now.
Tomorrow: Safetey Hazards Indoors and Out