An electrical shock occurs when a person comes into direct contact with an electrical current. Appliances in the home use electricity, as well as electrical cords and wall outlets, and they can cause an electrical injury. Whether an adult or child sustains an electric shock injury, the treatment is the same.
How Do Electrical Shock Injuries Occur?
Electric shock happens anytime an electrical current passes through the body. An electrical injury can happen at home or in the workplace.
There are many items that use electricity and when used incorrectly are dangerous, such as:
- Power lines
- Electric machinery
- Electric weapons
- Electrical outlets
- Common household appliances
Shocks from household appliances are less severe than currents from a power line. The source determines how serious the injury is, along with a few other factors, like:
- Type of current
- Person's health
- Electrical path through the body
- Length of exposure
A direct current is less harmful than an alternating current because it doesn't cause muscle spasms. The spasms caused by an alternating current make it harder to let go of the electrical source.
What To When Someone Is Injured?
Electrical shock care depends on the situation. A shock from a household appliance usually isn't an emergency. It's important to let go of the electrical source immediately. If someone else is shocked, try to turn off the electrical source using a non-metal too.
If someone is injured, you will need to:
- Cover any burns with sterile gauze
- Keep person warm
- Check the person's breathing
- Go to the doctor to check internal organs
Even with minor shock injuries, internal damage can occur. Internal injuries are often hard to detect right away. Call 911 and get emergency help for severe shock injuries. The symptoms include the following:
- Trouble breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Muscle numbness or pain
- Rapid heartbeat
Keep the person warm and monitor breathing. You may need to give CPR while waiting for help to arrive.
Are There Long-Term Effects?
Shock victims can have lasting effects from the injury. Electrical burns leave scars. Some shocks leave the person with pain, tingling, and muscle weakness that is ongoing.
Compartment syndrome sometimes happens after an electrical shock. It happens because the electricity damages muscles causing the limbs to swell. The swelling compresses arteries and can lead to other serious health issues.
Most shocks at home are not life-threatening, but it's always important to monitor shock victims no matter how minor the incident seems. Call a doctor or go to an emergency room if necessary for electrical injury care.