The electric chair is no longer used as the primary method of execution in the United States, but at the time it was invented, it was considered cutting edge - the best method available to kill someone who had been sentenced to death. This list explains what it's like to die in the electric chair. As you would expect, there are no first-hand accounts of what it's like to sit in Old Sparky, but we can piece it together from witness accounts of electrocutions and accounts from survivors of severe electrical shocks.
These facts about the electric chair will make one thing clear: death by electrocution is not something you ever want to experience. It's hard to believe that this method of execution used to be considered humane, and even harder to believe that it's still a legal execution option in five US states. If you're planning to commit a capital crime, don't do it in Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, or Virginia - or you'll have to choose between lethal injection and death by the electric chair. These facts about what it's like to die in the electric chair might make that choice a bit easier.
The Electric Chair Literally Cooks You
According to some reports, the electric chair can occasionally cause people to catch fire. Witnesses to executions have sometimes heard a sound "like bacon frying."
You Might Not Die on the First Try
Multiple executions by the electric chair have been botched, meaning the prisoner did not die after the first electric shock. In many of these cases, the prisoner actually caught on fire and still had a heartbeat. Most of the botched executions were attributed to human error.
No One Is Sure How the Electric Chair Works
Obviously, we know that the person is alive when they are strapped in, and dead after they get the shock, but the actual way in which the electric chair kills someone is up for debate. The most likely causes: cardiac arrest and paralysis of the part of the brain that controls respiration.
It Can Make Your Eyeballs Pop Out
Being electrocuted can cause the body to swell so much that the eyeballs pop out of the head. The extreme temperatures of the body can also cause the eyeballs to melt. That's why prisoners often have their eyes taped shut before they are executed.