Electricity surrounds us as we go about our daily lives. From our morning toast and coffee, to work and school settings, there is a potential for electric shock. These shocks can range from a small nuisance to a lethal encounter with electricity. A little knowledge of electricity and some know how of basic first aid for electric shock can keep you safe and may even save a life.
Electrical shock occurs when a person comes in contact with a live electrical source. Energy [electricity] will find a path through the body, sometimes causing no damage or sometimes causing burns, internal damage or even death. Many factors are the determining factor on what injuries may occur. These factors include amount of voltage,whether the current is AC or DC and the pathway the electrical current takes through the body. Small children, because of their need to explore, are particularly susceptible to electric shock.
There are a few things you can do to reduce the possibility of electric shock:
– Make sure your home is safe. In locations where indicated, such as in bathrooms and
kitchen areas, install GFCI outlets. If you cannot do this yourself, consult a
– Make sure all cords are in good working order, with no frays or nicks in the outer
covers. This includes extension cords, lamp cords and appliance cords.
– Use outlet covers in areas with small children.
– If working in an area or with an electrical device, make sure the device is unplugged
or the circuit is shut off at the main panel.
– Explain to your older children the dangers of playing in or on any electrical
– In case of thunderstorms, seek protection. Get inside or crouch low away from any
metal objects or trees to minimize the Chance of being struck by lightning.
When electrical shock is suspected, be careful. The person may still be in contact with the source of energy. If they are and you touch them, you may become a victim also. If you are unable to DE-energize the electrical source, do not touch the victim. Call 911 and wait for the professionals. You do not want to be an added victim for the rescuers.
If you do suspect in a person look for these symptoms:
– Burns at the entrance point and possible exit point of the electricity. Check
especially the palms of the hands and the bottoms of the feet.
– When the person has been thrown clear of the source of electricity, look for possible
broken bones or internal injuries. Suspect internal injuries if the person is short of
breath or is complaining about chest or abdominal pain.
– If it looks like the person has been working around power and they are in respiratory
or full arrest, suspect electric shock.
– With children, look for burns in or around the mouth. Small children have a tendency
to bite into electric cords.
If electric shock is suspected, treatment varies according to the severity of the shock.
As stated previously, if the victim is still energized or you are not sure, call 911 immediately. In cases of full or respiratory arrest or severe burns, this is also a time to call 911. Other first aid for electric shock include:
– First aid for burns. This includes topical antibiotics and sterile dressings for
minor burns to professional medical care for more severe burns.
– Splinting of sprains and broken bones until medical care by a professional can be
– Having any burn to the mouth area seen by a medical professional.
– In the case of full or respiratory arrest, rescue breathing or CPR until medical
help arrives. Contact your local chapter of The American Red Cross for details
on where you can take a CPR course.
Remember, the most important first aid measure you can take for electric shock is to keep you and your loved ones safe by inspecting your home for dangers, using safe work habits while around electricity and protecting those young ones from accidental shock.