Electric shock can occur in many ways. It can happen when children play with electrical cords, when infants and toddlers stick objects into electrical outlets and get an electric shock from a plug, or when children or adults come into contact with high voltage power sources. Electric shock can also occur in the rare occurrence that someone is hit by lightning. If someone does suffer this type of injury, you must be very careful in delivering electric shock treatment because you do not want to get shocked yourself. Here is what you need to know about giving electric shock first aid.
- First and most importantly do not touch the injured person if he or she is still in contact with the electrical current. If the power source is still on and the cord, or power line that electrocuted them is still touching them you must turn off the electric current before delivering assistance.
- When you prepare for electric shock rescue, and you cannot turn off the source of the electricity, move the source away from the person very carefully using an object that does not conduct electricity. Materials that are “nonconductive” include wood, plastic and cardboard. Objects made of these materials are the only ones you can use to safely remove the power source from the injured person and prevent suffering electric shock yourself.
- Call 911. Inform the emergency responder of the source of electricity and request that emergency help be sent and that the source of the electricity be turned off. Tell the 911 operator if you observe any of the following symptoms in the person who has suffered the electric shock:
- Severe burns
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle contractions
- Loss of consciousness
- If the person has lost consciousness, once you have called 911 begin CPR. Keep the person warm.
- Don’t move a person with an electrical injury even if you want to begin electric shock treatment. Wait until emergency crews arrive. Moving them may be injure them further. The damage caused by the electric shock may not be visible. Sometimes internal injuries are caused or the person may suffer cardiac arrest.
- Some electric injuries cause burns. If you have a sterile gauze bandage you can cover the wounds as you deliver electric shock first aid. However, do not use a blanket, towel, fleece or any other materials with long fibers as they can stick to the wound.
What are the signs and symptoms of electric shock?
Electrocution symptoms can be internal or external. They can range from burns to chest pain and lacerations. Getting shocked by electricity can result in serious, life-threatening injuries that can include the following:
- Burns: Burns may be suffered at the point where the electricity entered or exited the body. The head and the extremities, such as the hands and the heels of the feet, are the most common places for burns from electric shock. Children may suffer burns on the mouth if they have bitten on electric cords.
- Pain: The person may suffer pain at the point where the electricity entered and exited the body. Pain may also be suffered internally where the electricity traveled through the body. It can include chest pain and abdominal pain.
- Deformity: In some cases of severe electrical contact the body may become deformed, especially the hands and feet. Toes and fingers may be curled up as the result of electricity contracting the muscles.
- Shortness of breath: Electrocution may result in shortness of breath as the electricity contracts the lungs and chest muscles.
- Injuries from being thrown: High voltage electricity may throw a person when it strikes. This may result in other injuries like broken bones and lacerations.