How to treat an electric shock

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When someone comes into contact with an electrical current, the electricity seeks to find the shortest route back to earth. This will probably be through the person’s body, and the electricity can cause burns, muscular contractions, falls and possible cardiac arrest.

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Injury depends on the volts received

The level of injury that the person sustains is dependent both on the type of current (AC or DC) and on the voltage. For example, someone working on electrical control components may be affected by high or low voltage electricity. The amount of injury also depends on the path that the electrical current takes through the victim’s body. Even though a low voltage electricity may cause no permanent harm, the sensation is extremely unpleasant.

However, being exposed to a high voltage current, for example, a worker carrying out a job on an overhead power line, can cause major injury and death. One of the secondary problems is that someone who is working at height and suffers an electric shock, will frequently fall and the secondary injuries may be severe, indeed life-threatening.

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Because of the risks, always buy electrical components from a firm that can give accurate advice on safety.

Someone who has had an electric shock may look as though they have no injury, yet they could be in cardiac arrest. If there are burns they will usually be at the point where the person made contact with the source of the electricity.

How to help an electric shock victim

1. Before going to help someone who has sustained an electric shock, make absolutely sure that the source of the electricity has been turned off. Otherwise, the victim is still ”live” and if you touch them, you too will sustain a shock.

2. Call 999 for an ambulance and alert any first aider who is on site. If the person has fallen from a height, don’t move them in case they have a neck injury.

3. If they “come round” note how long they were unconscious for, as the paramedics will want to know this –

4. Keep the victim warm.

5. If you think their heart has stopped, start CPR compressions if you know how to do this.

Most of all, try to prevent these accidents by working safely with electricity.

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