I'm so shocking!
January 8, 2010 5:55 PM   Subscribe

How can I avoid getting static shocked 40 times a day this winter?

This winter is so much worse than ever before. Every time I touch a doorknob at work (about 5x/hour going in and out of the lab - there is no getting around that) I get shocked by static. Really painful static. It's so bad that I hesitate before opening any door because I know it will hurt a lot (even in front of the bathroom door, which looks really awkward at work!), and sometimes I secretly squat down and rub my arm on the doorknob first (the shock hurts less on my arm than my fingers) and then reach for it with my hand, but it would be pretty embarrassing being caught doing that!

I remember being afraid of car doors last winter, but that was only 2-3 times a day.. this winter I'm constantly suffering indoors too and it's pretty ridiculous!

How can I reduce all these static shocks? I'm constantly walking on carpet at work, but don't drag my feet on the ground.
posted by KateHasQuestions to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The static buildup is almost always caused by your clothes, and often your shoes. Try different shoes. If that doesn't work, try a different shirt/top.

Secondly, to discharge yourself without pain, hold onto a metal key, and then touch the key to the doorknob. (Or any other grounded metal object.) It only hurts when the electricity jumps through the air and travels through your skin in a tiny spot. By gripping onto a key, you won't feel it.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:24 AM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, seconding the key thing. Just carry one everywhere and touch the doorknob with it first. It's kind of fun to see the spark when you know it won't hurt.
posted by JanetLand at 5:33 AM on January 9, 2010

I came in here to suggest the key technique. It really works.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:02 AM on January 9, 2010

This is the FAQ to end all FAQs about static shock. There's tips there about what kind of shoes and stuff to wear.

To totally avoid shocks, you need to ground yourself, so you discharge the static before touching things like metal doorknobs. People used to do this with cars (I'm not sure why, but maybe so they wouldn't get shocked when paying tolls) by dragging little chains off the frame. So if changing footgear and whatnot doesn't work, and if you don't really care about appearances, I would try some metallic attachment to your shoes to discharge electricity. (In the 60s we called them "clicks" - little metal plates on the back of your heels.)
posted by beagle at 6:03 PM on January 8, 2010

Are there places between where you sit and the door where you can discharge the static before you get the big blast from the door? I always brush my arm against a filing cabinet on my way to the copier so that I don't get zapped on my fingers with the copier. It an ingrained habit now, I'll probably still be doing it in the summer.
posted by saffry at 6:11 PM on January 8, 2010

If you wear a metal watch, that works too.
posted by mathlete at 6:25 AM on January 9, 2010

Anti-static heel straps are what people in the electronics industry wear. The strap fastens under your heel with velcro over the instep. There is a nylon tail that you tuck into the ankle of your sock so that it touches your skin. No more shocks. In most cases one strap is sufficient.
posted by JackFlash at 6:12 PM on January 8, 2010

I have this problem too. I found it least painful if I discharged the static by bumping into something metal (car door, filing cabinet, desks) with my hip. More padding there, I guess?
posted by chiababe at 6:14 PM on January 8, 2010

I have seen small gadgets that purport to destatic you, anyone know of how or whether they work? Here is an example. I too have developed a pavlovian avoidance of doorhandles.
posted by Iteki at 8:26 AM on January 9, 2010

I use a ring instead of a key. I still feel a little tingle, but it's not painful, and a ring is a little more convenient.
posted by natabat at 10:56 AM on January 9, 2010

i keep this thing on my keys. it works perfectly. i used to be afraid of car doors and now i just de-shock myself first, and i haven't gotten shocked since i started using it.
posted by dithmer at 7:42 PM on January 9, 2010

A little dab of hand lotion on my hands seems to stop me getting shocked. (Our office has vile nylon carpet, which sets me off all year round.)

Also, I tap on a window or nonmetallic part of the door before pushing a metal handle or bar, which seems to discharge some of the static. Of course, now my colleagues think I have a tic because they see me tapping on the walls all day ...
posted by vickyverky at 7:55 PM on January 9, 2010

Buy different shoes. Google static and shoes and I'm sure you'll find all sorts of info.

Every time I got out of a car, I used to do a weird tap of my hand against the door before I'd close it because I knew it was going to shock me, so I just wanted to get it over with. Seriously, it was dumb! I did the tap-then-close thing for a long time. I did it so long that it became a habit I didn't even notice myself doing!

...and then one day I bought a new pair of shoes.

The next time I tapped a car door, there was no shock, so I tapped it again. Nothing. "Whaaa...?" I haven't had the problem since.
posted by 2oh1 at 8:33 PM on January 10, 2010

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