Here’s a serious manhole question for the hivemind. We all “know” that there have been instances of people or dogs being shocked or even electrocuted by stepping on electrified manhole covers. Our oldest didn’t believe it was possible. His point: a manhole cover is embedded in the ground. Therefore, almost by definition, it is grounded. So how is it possible to have a voltage between the metal cover and the street in which it is set? I was sure I had read it more than once in the paper. Mrs. R. was so sure she had read about at least a “half dozen” such cases in New York she made a bet with him. Bad move. The well known electrocution of a Columbia doctoral student in the East Village in 2004 actually involved a metal service box in the street, not a manhole. I’m not sure how that happened but presumably the box was insulated in some way from the street. But a manhole?
A semi-diligent search was unable to come up with any documented examples of a person or animal being zapped by a manhole cover. This is specific to manhole covers, not street lights or service boxes. So now it’s your turn. Does this happen, and if so, how? Or is this another urban legend?