In the same way the US hangs on to feet and pounds when the rest of the world uses meters and kilograms, the US has a different voltage of electricity in their power outlets. In the States, your plug with two long rectangles produces 110 volts at 60mhz. In West Africa, the outlets come in a variety of shapes and sizes but they all produce 220 volts at 50mhz. So what’s the big difference? Well, quite frankly, 220 will kill you – literally. I’ve been zapped by 110 before and boy does it sting, but 220 is not something you play around with. I’ve heard of grown men being instantly killed when they grabbed a hot 220 wire.
One of the must-haves that we brought were power converters. These convert the 220 to 110 and also serve as an adapter to allow the America style plug fit into the Ghanaian style outlet. Plug your American appliance into a 220 outlet and you’ll hear a nice pop and most likely see/smell a puff of smoke as your expensive electronic device is completely fried. BEWARE!
In Ghana, they have a switch next to every outlet that turns it on and off. This is a nice little safety feature. However, with Trey knowing how to flip switches (and enjoying it) we had to go around the house and duct tape every outlet and switch. We just can’t take a chance with his curious little fingers.
Here at the hospital compound they have conveniently wired every house with 110 and 220. So you get to choose at each outlet. Quite handy if you didn’t bring enough power converters.