Quick science lesson: when two dissimilar materials touch and then separate, they undergo triboelectric charging.

For example, when you move around while in contact with a surface (such as the floor), you become electrically charged. It’s no biggie in humid air, because moisture dissipates the charge. But static builds up in dry winter air. When you touch a conductor of electricity, such as metal or another person, the charge flows out of you. That’s the spark you feel.

Want to avoid it?

CHANNEL IT

After walking outside for a while or entering a building, take a key out of your pocket. It’s just as charged as you are right now. Hold the metal part and touch its tip to the first metal thing you see, like a doorknob. The electricity will flow painlessly from you and through the key, zapping the knob.

DRESS RIGHT

Polyester doesn’t absorb moisture well, so it won’t dissipate a static charge. You’re better off with cotton or wool, both of which do a better job of dissipating the charge.

CHANGE THE AIR

Use a humidifier. The more water vapour in the air, the more surfaces are covered in moisture and the less charge you’ll accumulate. Plus, it’s a good way to stop your skin from drying out.