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Pure water does not conduct electricity, but fresh water with minerals in it and even moreso salt water are excellent conductors of electrical charge from lightning or fallen power lines. The conductive properties of water are so great that one might not even see the lightning flash that produces the current that causes death on contact in water.
What can you do to avoid electrocution in water? Get out of it at the first sign of lightning! And never step into water around fallen power lines unless you know the electricity has been turned off.
7. Chinese water torture.
Chinese water torture is the slow dripping of water on a person's forehead, intended to drive its victim insane. Actually invented in Italy, rather than in China, Chinese water torture was first used by Hippolytus de Marsili in 1451. He gave this method of torture the name "Chinese" to make it seem more terrifying to its victims. During the Spanish Inquisition, victims were strapped down so they could not move and warm water dripped on their heads, most of them coming to believe that the water had hollowed out their foreheads.
Up until the middle of the twentieth century, many nations of Europe and Asia executed criminals and prisoners of war by scalding, immersing their bodies in pots of boiling water until fourth-degree burns caused the flesh to come off their bones. The skin is destroyed, exposing the fat, which dissolves in the boiling water.
Accidental deaths by scalding still occur. Most scalding deaths occur to infants accidentally lowered into hot water in a sink for purposes of bathing. A water temperature of just 60 °C (140°F) can cause death.
The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 killed at least 250,000 and possibly as many as 10,000,000 people. Other tsunamis throughout history cumulatively have killed tens of millions of people after powerful earthquakes sometimes on the other side of the ocean. The greatest tsunami in history occurred in Alaska's Latuya Bay in 1958. A landslide caused a wave over 1700 feet (500 meters) tall, which, amazingly, one boat survived.
10. Water poisoning.
Most adults need at least a liter (1 quart) of water, on a regular basis, to avoid death by dehydration. But drinking as much as 10 to 20 liters (2-1/2 to 5 gallons) of water can cause death through a process called dilutional hyponatremia, greatly reducing the concentration of sodium ions in the bloodstream. Every cell in the human body has to absorb positively charged sodium ions every time it takes in negatively charged oxygen, glucose, amino acids, or regulatory compounds. When there is not enough sodium in the bloodstream, cells are literally starved for oxygen and glucose. Some tissues of the body may expand, especially in the brain, and the pressure against bone and ligaments may crush them. They release potassium ions which further reduce the ability of surviving cells to attract the oxygen and nutrients they need.
Water poisoning was used as a method of execution in some African tribes, but most modern cases occur as fraternity initiation pranks.