Electric Shock First Aid Treatment

Hand holding a dangerous damaged electrical cord

Electric shocks are not as common as cuts and wounds, but these accidents still happen when we least expect it. At home, the occurrence of electric shocks may be less concerning, but it doesn’t mean that these incidents cannot take a turn for the worse, especially if it involves a child.

In an industrial workplace setting, the threat of accidents resulting in electric shocks is even greater.

Electric shocks are not always a medical emergency. However, it is still required to get checked by a doctor even so.

Find out more about electric shocks, what you can do when it happens, and when to classify it as an emergency case.

What is Electric Shock?

Electric shock is a condition in which an electric current flows through the body. Electric shocks can result in both internal and external tissue damage, as well as damages to the organs.

The severity of the damage depends on factors such as the kind of current, the voltage, the person’s health and wellbeing, as well as how fast the treatment has been administered to the person.

What causes Electric Shock?

Electric shocks can begin from just about anything, including:

  • Power lines
  • Lightning
  • Electric-powered devices
  • Electric machinery
  • Household appliances
  • Electrical outlets

The seriousness of an electric shock incident varies depending on several factors. Incidents of electric shocks that are caused by household appliances are usually not that serious, although the situation can quickly escalate if a child is involved.

Here are other factors that determine how serious an electric shock is:

  • How high the voltage is
  • How long the period of contact to the source is
  • How well the person’s health is
  • What is the type of current that created the shock

What are the symptoms of Electric Shock?

Electric shock can manifest in various symptoms. More often, these symptoms can tell how severe an electric shock is.

These symptoms may include:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation
  • Headaches
  • Breathing problems
  • Issues with vision or hearing
  • Burns
  • Seizure
  • Irregular heartbeat

First-Aid Treatment for Electric Shock

Urgent response when it comes to a situation like electric shocks plays a big role in reducing its effects and saving lives.

Here is what you can do in the event of an electric shock.

What to do if you have been shocked

It can be difficult to maintain a clear mind if you are on the receiving end of an electric shock. For severe shock, try these steps:

  • Let go of the object that brought about the electric shock immediately.
  • If you are able, call the emergency services. If not, have someone call for you.
  • Try not to move. Move only if you are trying to step away from the source of the shock.

If you think the shock is minor, you should:

  • Consult a doctor as soon as possible. It is imperative to see a medical professional even if there are no visible symptoms. This is because electric shock can have internal injuries that you won’t be able to observe immediately.
  • If you have burns, cover it with a sterile gauze. Refrain from using adhesive bandages as these have the tendency to stick to the burn.

What to do if someone else have been shocked

If someone with you accidentally becomes the victim of shock, helping them is not an option. However, you need to think about your own safety while trying to aid them in the situation.

  • Do not try to touch someone who is a victim of shock if they are still holding the source of the current.
  • Do not try to move someone who is a victim of shock. Only do so when they are at risk of suffering from further shock.
  • If possible, turn off the source of electricity. If not, move the electrical source away from the person but make sure to use an item that is non-conducting. Consider wood or rubber. Do not use metal-based materials or anything that is wet.
  • If in any case the cause of shock is a high-voltage power source that has not been turned off, keep a safe distance of at least 20 feet away.
  • Immediately call emergency services if the person has been struck by lightning or came into shock through encountering high-voltage power sources, like power lines.
  • Immediately call emergency services if the person is experiencing difficulties in breathing, about to lose consciousness, experiencing seizures, having muscle pains, and a fast heartbeat.
  • Observe the person’s breathing and pulse, if possible. If it appears that the person is not breathing and pulse is undetectable, proceed with CPR.
  • If the person is vomiting or looking pale, place their legs in an elevated position.
  • Cover the burns with sterile gauze. Avoid using adhesive bandages.
  • Make sure to keep the person warm.

Medical Treatment for Electric Shock

Even for minor cases of electric shock, it is still important to visit a doctor to observe for internal injuries.

Treatments for electric shock depend on the severity of injuries. Usual treatments include:

  • Treatment of burns, which may involve the application of antibiotic cream and wound dressings
  • Medication for pain
  • Intravenous fluid
  • A tetanus injection

For severe cases of electric shock, the patient may be ordered to stay at the hospital for a few days. This allows for observation of any heart issues or other injuries.

Long-Term Effects of Electric Shock

For severe cases of electric shock, the patient may be ordered to stay at the hospital for a few days. This allows for the observation of any heart issues or other injuries.

Severe burns can result in permanent scars once healed. In a more dangerous scenario, when the electrical current goes through the eyes, this can lead to the development of cataracts.

Some internal injuries can become the cause of persistent pain, numbness, a tingling sensation, and weakness of the muscles.

Electric shocks can also cause compartment syndrome. This is when muscle damage results in the swelling of the limbs. This condition has serious consequences as it can squeeze arteries and affect blood circulation. Since compartment syndrome is not easily visible after a shock incident, make sure to observe your arms and legs for possible development of this condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Electric shock can be brought about by a variety of electrical sources. In the house, the source can easily be any household appliance. In the workplace, especially in the industrial environment, the source can be more diverse and more dangerous like electrical machinery and high-voltage power sources.
Yes, electric shocks are associated with lasting health effects that you need to watch out for, like scars, cataracts in some cases, weakened muscles, and the development of compartment syndrome.
Yes, even a small amount of electricity can hurt you or even become deadly. But to this end, the overall health of the person is to be considered as well as the length of exposure to the electrical source.

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