A woman who was cleaning the floor of her house was electrocuted after she came in contact with the refrigerator in Gouranganagar on the fringes of New Town on Monday, police said.
Family members of Shukla Das, 51, had to turn off the main switch of the house before taking her to Salt Lake Sub-divisional Hospital, an officer of the Bidhannagar commissionerate said. Das was declared dead at the hospital.
Rina Das, one of Shukla’s relatives who had turned off the main switch before dragging her away from the refrigerator, said that she was alerted by her scream.
“I was in the bedroom when I heard a cry. I rushed out to see Shukla lying on the floor and froth coming out of her mouth. I turned the main switch off then dragged her away,” said Das.
Rina then alerted the neighbours who helped her take Shukla to the hospital.
An officer of the New Town police station said Shukla was wiping the floor with a wet cloth on Monday afternoon.
“She was dipping it in a bucket of water before wiping the floors. Her hands and feet were wet too,” the officer said.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that somehow the earthing line of the refrigerator had stopped functioning. This had turned the entire unit into an electrical conductor,” said the officer.
The police have started a case of unnatural death.
Arindam Kumar Sil, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Jadavpur University, said that it is possible for the body of electrical appliances like a refrigerator to turn into “a live electrical conductor”.
“It is quite possible for electrical appliances with metal bodies, particularly those that are old, to turn into live electrical conductors. In the case of older refrigerator models, several electrical devices used to be placed near the bottom of the metal body where the chances of getting electrocuted is quite high. Paint that acts as protectant flakes off old refrigerators and once it does the metal body can start conducting current resulting in electrocution. Thirdly, if the earthing line stops functioning, then the entire device can turn into a live conductor,” said Sil.
According to him, a periodic maintenance schedule and a health audit of older appliances can reduce the chances of getting electrocuted.
“These days we are largely dependent on appliances and like our vehicles that we send to service centres for periodic maintenance, people should get their appliances, particularly the older ones, checked up regularly,” Sil said.