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Know how to treat electrial burns

Know how to treat electrical burns

An electric shock happens due to someone coming in contact with a source of electrical energy, which then leads to the electrical energy flowing through a part of the body and resulting in a shock. When exposed to electrical energy, you may be lucky enough to part with just a shock. In contrast, in other scenarios, it can lead to severe damage or even a fatal incident. The most common type of injury from an electric shock is burns.

Adults and adolescents are prone to shock from high voltage. In the United States alone, about 1,000 deaths occur every year due to electrical injuries. [About 400 of those deaths result from injuries from high voltage shock and about 50 to 300 are caused by lightning. In addition, at least 30,000 non-fatal shock incidents occur every year, and about 5% of the admission burn units in the United States make in a year are due to electrical injuries. About 20% of electrical injuries happen to children, which is higher in adolescents and toddlers. For children, electrical injuries occur mostly at home, while for adults it occurs mostly in their place of work.

Different factors affect the type of injury (if there is any) that a person may sustain from an electric shock. Some of these factors include if the current is AC or DC, the amount of the current, the pathway in the body that the electricity follows. For example, electricity with low voltage, i.e., voltage less than 500 volts, usually does not cause any significant injure to humans. In contrast, high voltage, i.e., a voltage greater than 500 volts, can cause serious damage.

Symptoms of an electric shock

Someone who was shocked by electricity may show very little evidence of injury externally, or there might be serious burns. The person could, On the other hand, be in cardiac arrest.

  • Normally, burns are most severe at the point of contact with the ground and the electrical source. Common points of contact include the head, hand, and heels.

  • There could also be other injuries aside from burns if the person was flung away from the source of the electricity by forceful contraction. The person may be suffering from internal bleeding, especially chest pain, shortness of breath, or abdominal pain. There should also be a consideration to check for spine injury.

  • In children, there might be an electrical mouth burn on the lip from biting an electric cord. The burnt area will have a dark or charred red appearance.

  • The person might be experiencing pain in their hand or foot or deformity in any part of their body might suggest a broken bone due to the electric shock.

If you see someone who is in contact with an electrical current and you are trying to help them out

  • Do not try touching the person if they are still in contact with the electrical source.

  • If the source of the electricity is lightning or a high voltage wire, call your local emergency number immediately. Do not stay close to wires until you are sure that the power has been turned off, and maintain a distance of at least 20 feet from any power line.

  • Do not ever move someone that has an electrical injury except the person is in imminent danger. If someone suffered a severe shock or has fallen from a height, resulting in multiple jerks, do not move the person as they could have a more serious neck injury that might require the neck to be protected first.

We already know that electrical injuries can result in tissue damage internally, which will not be visible on the skin. You should call your local emergency number if the victim is experiencing any of the following

  • Any serious burns to the skin

  • Any loss of consciousness

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Confusion

  • Any form of tingling, numbness, paralysis, or problems with speech, vision, or hearing.

  • Contractions of muscles

  • Seizures

  • Any type of electric shock if you are above 20 weeks pregnant.

If you experience a low voltage shock, call a doctor

  • If you’ve not had a tetanus shot in more than five years

  • If you have burns that are not healing

  • Burns that the redness, drainage, or soreness are increasing.

  • If you are pregnant and you suffer an electric shock.

While you await the arrival of medical help

  • If you can, safely shut off the source of the electricity. If you can’t, use a non-conductive object to move the source of the electricity away. Ensure that the object you make use of is dry.

  • If the victim is unresponsive, you can start performing CPR.

  • Ensure that the person does not become chilled.

  • Use a clean cloth or a sterile bandage to cover the burns. Do not use a towel or blanket as the loose fibers can get stuck in the burn.


Even if someone does not sustain electrical burns, anyone who has suffered an electrical shock will require medical attention even if they may seem fine afterward.

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