You scuff your socks across the living room carpet. Then you give an unsuspecting victim a shock. It's a good laugh. The static electricity you created scuffing your socks on the carpet causes a spark to jump from your finger to the other person. It's a harmless gag among buddies.
Among network hardware, it's another story completely.
Network hardware devices can be permanently damaged with as little as 100 volts. To put this in perspective, the act of walking across a carpet can generate somewhere between 1,500 and 35,000 volts.
Now think about this. People can't detect this ESD spark until it reaches 3,000 volts. So, ESD is a very dangerous hidden enemy of your networking hardware. We are talking about your Cisco routers, 3Com switches, Nortel phones and all the other important devices in your network. We are talking about possibly hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of dollars of network hardware that is incredibly important to your company at risk. Do not increase your risks needlessly.
No responsible IT professional should allow their network hardware to be exposed to ESD.
Fortunately, there are ESD protection measures that can be taken to avoid these prevelant problems.