Underwire Bra Can Mess with Defibrillator

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Trail Blazers."
Nicholas Veasey/Getty Images


Explanation: According to this myth, wearing an underwire bra while getting a heart-starting shock from a defibrillator is a recipe for disaster. Not only could your bra catch fire, the theory claims, but electricity from the defibrillator paddles could arc to the underwire and fry your skin where the metal touches it.

Part of this myth's origin may be steeped in reality. There were some reports of bras catching fire in the early 1990s, but these days emergency workers are trained to cut bras first. Still, when the MythBusters tested this burning question, the bra didn't burst into flames. For this to actually happen, sparks would need to land on the fabric and burn unchecked, something that's not likely to happen with emergency workers around.

The MythBusters did find that a defibrillator's electricity actually could transfer to a bra's metal underwire and burn the skin — but only if a lot of things go wrong. The paddles would have to be placed in the wrong position {away from the heart and near the underwire}, and the metal would have to be partially exposed to act as a conductor.

Sounds like as good a reason as any to replace any threadbare unmentionables.

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