The most common question everyone asks after they see a Taser used is “Does getting tased hurt?”
Other popular questions include:
- How does a Taser even work?
- What does it feel like?
- Does it cause long term damage?
- Can it kill me?
I will go over all those questions, and more, so you know exactly what happens when you get tased.
What is a Taser?
I need to explain explain exactly what a Taser is before describing the effects of it.
The Taser is an electroshock weapon sold by Axon Inc. The Taser works by firing 2 probes into a person at a distance of up to 25 feet. In other words, the Taser is a stun gun that can cover distance.
The long range makes it significantly more effective than a handheld stun gun for defensive purposes.
Once the darts are implanted in the person, an electrical current of 50,000 volts travels through wires attached to the darts. But don’t let the 50,000 volts figure mislead you: only 1,200 of those volts reach the human body.
However, those 1,200 volts is still a lot of electricity – certainly enough to get the job done.
The Taser was originally developed for the police to subdue belligerent people without the use of lethal force. Use of the Taser began in 1994 and over 15,000 police departments around the world currently use the Taser.
Obviously, the Taser is a very effective non-lethal weapon for police to use, but what about the effects on the human body?
What happens to the human body when you get tased?
The 1,200 volts of electricity from the Taser will pulse through your entire body.
In reality, this is just as scary it sounds. Despite that, the Taser is still considered a non-lethal weapon. It will cause you to involuntarily contract every single muscle in your body and fall to the ground.
In the self defense world we call this “forced compliance.”
Does getting tased hurt?
Everyone that has seen a Taser in use asks the same question. Does it hurt?
Yes, getting tased hurts. It hurts a lot. Watch this video from YouTube to see some genuine reactions from police officers:
Some people have described it as the worst pain in their life. However, the pain stops when the electricity stops. Thankfully, the electricity usually stops after about 5 seconds, so the pain doesn’t last long.
Since the person will fall backwards to the ground, with the inability to break their fall, this can cause secondary injuries. Secondary injuries are especially common when falling on concrete or other unusual surfaces such as rocks or the street curb. Think of getting knocking out and falling on concrete. That is a similar situation as getting tased.
The rarely mentioned, but still painful, part of getting tased are the 2 razor sharp darts penetrating your skin. Those darts will hurt at any location on the body.
Proper use of the Taser calls for a shot aimed at the chest. However, Taser shots can occur at any location on the body due to the nature of their use.
Due to those factors, many police departments require an EMT to check the victim after they have been tased.
The reasoning is two-fold. It reduces the likelihood of injury from improper removal of the darts. On top of that, the EMT can ensure the victim is still healthy because Tasers can have some severe side effects.
Can getting tased kill me?
I know this is not the definitive answer you want to hear, but it really does depend on a variety of factors.
Getting shocked by a Taser has a higher likelihood of causing death if:
- you are elderly,
- have a pacemaker,
- suffer from a heart condition,
- are using drugs.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Taser uses are not voluntary uses.
In other words, the police will not review your medical history before they decide to shock you. So if you do have health issues, then do your best to avoid getting in situations where you can get tased (easier said than done, I know).
Complicating matters further, no scientific studies have been done on the danger of Taser use on high risk individuals. No testing will probably ever be done due to ethical concerns about the risk of accidentally killing someone during the testing. Unknown health conditions are actually the most dangerous aspect of getting tased.
Another additional risk factor of a Taser is improper deployment.
Normally, the shock should only last 3-5 seconds. However, in one instance, a police officer improperly using a Taser shocked a man for 30 seconds and killed him. In a different case, an officer shocked a suspect 12 times in a short time period, which led to his death a few hours later.
Both instances are improper usage of a Taser and extremely dangerous. The main takeaway from that is that if you carry a Taser, then you need to ensure sure you know how to properly use it without injuring or killing someone.
As you can see, Taser deaths do occur. But the Taser has been used over 3.6 million times around the world with very minimal numbers of deaths or injuries. Even better, 99.75% of the time the shock results in no serious injury. The Axon website also claims the Taser has saved almost 200,000 lives.
Overall, the best way to avoid getting inadvertently killed by a Taser is to avoid getting tased in the first place. The Taser is not as dangerous as you would think, though, based off of the extremely small number of reported injuries.
Do Tasers cause long term damage?
No one has conducted a study on the long term effects of Taser use.
However, many people have been tased with no noticeable long term effects. The general consensus amongst the scientific community is that Tasers only cause very painful short term damage with no long term effects.
What does getting tased feel like?
Fortunately, I have never been tased! I have been shocked, though (touched one of those low power electric cow fences when I was younger).
From the accounts I have read by people that have been tased, it feels like any other electrical shock.
Except this electrical shock is so powerful it causes your muscles to tense up making you fall to the ground. The pain also stops when the electricity stops.
This, to me, makes it preferable to getting sprayed by pepper spray, whose effects can last hours, or getting whacked by a baton, which can obviously cause very serious traumatic injuries.
Do Tasers always work?
No. A Taser does not always work as desired, despite what everyone (particularly Axon) wants you to believe.
It is actually somewhat common for them to be ineffective. Factors that can cause a Taser to not work are:
- not all the probes making contact with the suspect,
- the probes getting caught in clothing,
- or a suspect that is high on drugs.
Your average sober person that gets hit by a Taser will collapse to the ground and writhe in pain.
However, something as simple as wearing a heavy coat or jacket can make a Taser ineffective. This is why they should always be considered a non-lethal weapon and other backup weapon should be carried, particularly if you’re living in a colder climate where people wear heavier clothing.
Getting tased has a major impact on the human body by causing involuntary muscle contractions that cause the person to collapse.
Thankfully, the Taser is not a lethal weapon, even though it has been known to lead to death in certain scenarios. Most people that get tased can expect some pain for the duration of the shock and that’s it.
Have you been tased before? Tell your story in the comments.
And check out this awesome slo-mo Taser firing video below: