The risk of electric shock depends on the type of current, the high voltage, how the current flows through the body, the overall health of the person, and the speed of treatment of the person.
You may get burned or leave no marks on your skin due to electric shock. In either case, the current flowing through the body can cause damage, cardiac arrest, or other injuries within the body. Under certain circumstances, even a small amount of electricity can be fatal.
When to contact the doctor
People who are injured by contact with electricity should see a health care provider.
- Do not touch the injured who are still in contact with the electric current.
- If the cause of the burn is a high voltage line or lightning, call 911 or your nearest emergency number. Keep away from high voltage lines until the power is turned off. Overhead power lines are usually not isolated. If the wires are jumping and scattering sparks, stay at least 20 feet away.
- Do not move an electrocuted person unless there is an imminent danger.
When to seek emergency medical care
If the injured experience any of the following, call 911 or your nearest emergency number.
- Severe burns
- Arrhythmia problem
- Cardiac arrest
- Myalgia and contraction
- Loss of consciousness
Take these actions immediately while waiting for medical assistance:
- If possible, turn off the power. If not, use a dry, non-conductive object made of paperboard, plastic, or wood to keep the source away from you or the injured.
- If there are no signs of circulation such as breathing, coughing, or movement, start CPR.
- Keep the injured from getting cold.
- Wrap a bandage. If possible, cover the burnt area with a sterile gauze bandage or a clean cloth. Do not use blankets or towels. Loose fibers can adhere to burns.
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- Emergency AZ: Electric shock-shock. American university of emergency doctors. https://www.emergencyphysicians.org/article/know-when-to-go/electrical-shock. Accessed on June 1, 2022.
- Electrical injury. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/electrical-and-lightning-injuries/electrical-injuries#. Accessed on June 1, 2022.
- First aid for electric shock. American Institute of Preventive Medicine. https://healthy.net/2000/12/06/first-aid-for-electric-shockemergency-conditions/?cn-reloaded=1. Accessed on June 1, 2022.