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Grocery store shopping carts - shocking!

lisavf Jul 26, 2011 01:50 PM

I was at the grocery store today, and once again I got shocked! Repeated little shocks on my hands (fingers and palms) where I was touching the metal part of the handle of the shopping cart. This has happened to me in several stores, with both the regular carts and the smaller carts. Anyone else have this happen? Anyone know the reason why it happens? It's shocking!

  1. m
    MissusLisa Jul 26, 2011 02:17 PM

    Happens to me all the time. I don't know why. Sometimes after I leave the store my car will then shock me getting in it.

    1. sunshine842 Jul 26, 2011 02:42 PM

      No, but I'm bumping in the hopes that someone answers this. Happened to me enough today that it hurt.

      All I can think of is some weird static buildup, but DANG why does it have to discharge right down the palm of my hand!?

      1. s
        smartie Jul 26, 2011 03:16 PM

        Happens to me often too.

        1. i
          Isolda Jul 26, 2011 03:27 PM

          I am totally baffled. This has never happened to me, even in the winter, when everything else shocks me. I wonder if it has to do with body type or the floor material or what you are putting in your carriage/cart? I'd be very interested to hear a scientific explanation of this.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Isolda
            sunshine842 Jul 26, 2011 03:48 PM

            It happened to me most frequently at Walmart in Florida - but today was at Auchan here in France -- so no correlation of weather, cart manufacturers, flooring materials or anything else immediately obvious.

            It seems to happen more frequently with the plastic-bodied carts, rather than wire carts, even the plastic-coated wire carts.

            1. re: sunshine842
              lisavf Jul 26, 2011 03:54 PM

              It is annoying, and actually, it sometimes creates an aversion reaction - I can remember the sensation and really want to avoid it. Makes me want to end the shopping trip and run out of the store! I even recall it happening in the winter, and I put on my gloves in order to finish the shopping trip. But it doesn't happen every time. Weird!

              The stores I've been in have metal carts with just the partial plastic sheath around the handle, and the shocks always happen when I touch the metal part. It's happened to me in three different stores that I can remember, and probably others that I don't recall at the moment.

              1. re: sunshine842
                aziline Jul 29, 2011 11:14 AM

                As reading this I was thinking "I get shocked all the time too! Wait a minute... I haven't lately." And that's because I haven't been shopping at Wal-mart. I can't imagine they are to blame but that is odd.

            2. t
              thimes Jul 26, 2011 04:01 PM

              Happens to me too. I've always assumed it was some static build up from the wheels on the linoleum floors. But it is annoying! And they are sharp little shocks too!

              1. e
                ediblover Jul 26, 2011 04:24 PM

                It's not the carts. It's you. Well, not you, but something you're doing/wearing that's giving you a negative charge. Since the universe is lazy and likes things balanced, it wants to rid you of the charge you're carrying. So, when you touch a conductor/metal, the charge flows from you to the cart and beyond.

                So, what are you doing that's causing this? Too many sources to count. To remedy it, you can try to ground yourself, or just do the simple thing and touch a bit of metal (not electronic) once in a while so you don't build up a strong charge.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ediblover
                  sunshine842 Jul 26, 2011 11:25 PM

                  Not if I get it when I'm wearing different clothes/shoes than the last time I got zapped.

                  and I never, ever shuffle my feet.

                  1. re: sunshine842
                    Feed_me Apr 2, 2014 10:33 PM

                    I believe the static electricity has built up on yourself and you have to discharge yourself in a painless way. I discovered how to do it purely by accident. I happened to have my metal house key grasped between my index finger and thumb and just happened to touch the metal chain link fence. It was at night and besides a audible "pop" there was the electric arc visible just before the point of the key touched the metal fence. Someone said they were afraid they might damage their car key with electronics and they might be right. Just use a plain all metal key. Apparently the relatively broad contact area of your finger tips diffuses the charge that it doesn't hurt.
                    I later heard the guys on Car Talk on NPR say use a quarter between your thumb and forefinger and touch a piece of grounded metal (metal water pipe, metal part of your auto, metal chain link fence) to discharge yourself.

                    1. re: Feed_me
                      sunshine842 Apr 3, 2014 04:54 AM

                      three years later...yeah, no.

                2. Samalicious Jul 26, 2011 05:05 PM

                  I've read that the wheels build up a static charge that is not discharged on some type of floors.
                  Some grocery stores are putting a little "ground chain" on the bottom of the cart to discharge the static electricity. Some people recommend touching the metal part of the cart with your car key to get rid of the charge, but I'm not sure that wouldn't mess up the remote clicker on the key.

                  1. hala Jul 26, 2011 06:24 PM

                    I heard it doesn't happen if you put a sheet of fabric softner in your pocket. Probably an urban legend.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: hala
                      mariacarmen Jul 26, 2011 10:15 PM

                      That's also what they tell you to do to avoid being bitten by mosquitos.

                      1. re: mariacarmen
                        Isolda Jul 27, 2011 11:17 AM

                        And that does NOT work at all!

                        1. re: Isolda
                          sunshine842 Jul 27, 2011 11:44 AM

                          Hmm. I heard you were supposed to rub the dryer sheet ON your skin.

                    2. l
                      Lixer Jul 28, 2011 11:23 AM

                      I worked at a costco one summer and came to know these shocks very well. As a shopper I tried to remove my hand from the cart as little as possible. As a receipt checker I got a shock about half the time I was handed a receipt and got many a complaint from families with young kids who got shocked while shopping.

                      Never really did figure out why that store was so shocking.

                      1. dave_c Jul 28, 2011 11:57 AM

                        That happens to me a lot.
                        I think it has to do with the type of clothes you're wearing and how you walk (or shuffle).

                        Type of clothes... not sure. I never really pay attention.

                        1. chowser Jul 28, 2011 02:00 PM

                          I was told by a teacher, not sure how much truth there is to it, that you could touch metal with your knuckles which supposedly have fewer nerve endings so it won't hurt as much.

                          1. inaplasticcup Jul 28, 2011 02:18 PM

                            I think dry weather gives way to static shock as well. Maybe the weather is specially dry where you are?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: inaplasticcup
                              smartie Jul 28, 2011 02:21 PM

                              not currently dry in Fl I think humidity is about 200% (well it feels like it) and I get shocks most of the time at the markets.

                              1. re: smartie
                                Samalicious Jul 28, 2011 02:41 PM

                                Here's a story about the same problem in Sacramento and the grounding device they ended up using.

                                1. re: Samalicious
                                  sunshine842 Jul 28, 2011 11:55 PM

                                  interesting....guess now when I go to the store, I'll have my reusable bags in one hand, my token for using the cart on my keyring, *and* a little piece of wire to loop around the wheels.

                                  (I'll need a grocery cart just to carry all the crap I need to have in my grocery cart!) :D

                            2. chowser Jul 29, 2011 11:23 AM

                              I should have known there would be a product that would help with this:


                              1. i
                                iluvbigeast May 27, 2012 04:38 PM

                                It's because of the wheels rolling across the floor and you being the path of least resistance for the electrical charge that is building up. It's annoying and painful. I wish that stores would put drag wires on their shopping carts, but until they do, this is what I do and it works!

                                I took a few of those cheap metal chains, the kind that look like little balls strung together (it doesn't matter what you use as long as it's metal) and I attached it to a metal clip, which I attach to the bottom of my shopping cart so the chain hangs down and drags a little on the floor. No more shocks!!! (Just remember to take it off when you empty your cart.)

                                1. njmarshall55 May 29, 2012 10:34 AM

                                  I don't get it from carts as much as I do from the freezer and refrigerator doors in the market.

                                  1. p
                                    prgunther Apr 2, 2014 05:38 PM

                                    I was at Harris Teeter pushing a small shopping cart and kept getting SHOCKED! I thought I was imagining the shocks, so I asked a couple of people if they experienced the shocking and they both said they felt it too! It was 70 degrees out, very comfortable, and I'm in MD

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