ELECTRIC SHOCK FIRST AID
An electric shock has the potential to be lethal. Knowing how to render first aid to someone who has been electrocuted is vital for reducing the danger of serious complications and possibly death.
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ELECTRIC SHOCK?
An electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with a live electrical energy source. It is a physical reaction to electrical currents passing through the body. These range from mild reactions to dangerous shocks that can affect the body's tissues.
The hazard of an electric shock is determined by the voltage, the part of the body affected, and the type of current used. In severe situations, the physical consequences may vary from burns to serious internal organ failure, cardiac arrest, and death.
ELECTRIC SHOCK SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The physical effects of an electric shock on the body are primarily determined by four factors:
- amount of current that flows through the body
- path the current takes through the body
- amount of time the current remains flowing through the body, and
- frequency of the current
The physical effects of an electric shock are determined by the amount of current applied. A current of less than one milliampere has no physical effect. A 1 milliampere current may cause a faint tingle, while a 5 milliampere current may provide a minor shock. However, for currents ranging from 6 to 25 milliamperes, the patient may experience a painful shock and loss of muscular control.
Electrical currents ranging from 50 to 150 milliamperes have been known to produce respiratory arrest, severe pain, and significant muscular spasm. Death is a possibility in some instances. Death is possible for patients subjected to currents ranging from 1,000 to 4,300 milliamperes, as the patient may suffer nerve damage, muscular contraction, and a halt of the heart's normal pumping function.
Exposure to currents of up to 10,000 milliamperes can result in serious burns and cardiac arrest. Death is most likely.
The following are the most common signs and symptoms: loss of consciousness, difficulty of breathing or cessation of breathing, burns occurring where the current entered and left the body, cardiac arrest, weak and erratic pulse or cessation of pulse.
WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT OF AN ELECTRIC SHOCK?
- The first step is to turn off the power source. If possible, turn off the power, unplug the machine, or switch off the fuse box. Do not attempt to touch the victim until the power supply has been shut off.
- Be cautious in wet locations, such as bathrooms, pool areas, and wet grounds. Water is an electrical conductor, and you could be electrocuted. If you're concerned about wet grounds, switch off the main power supply of the house or structure.
- If it is not possible to turn off the power, use a material that does not conduct electricity to isolate the person from the electrical source. You can use a broom handle or any other dry wooden piece.
- If you are alone with the patient, call an ambulance or medical help as soon as the victim has been separated from the electrical source. Apply first aid while waiting for the ambulance.
- First, assess the individual's condition. Check to see if the patient is awake and breathing. In severe circumstances, the patient's pulse may be weak or absent. Breathing may have come to a halt.
- Start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the person is unconscious and has stopped breathing. Place your hand in the center of your chest, about two inches above the end of your breastbone. Place one hand on top of the other. Push forcefully and rapidly to about a third of the chest diameter. Give 30 compressions.
- Provide two rescue breaths after each set of chest compressions. Tilt the head back and elevate the chin to do this. Close the nose and make a complete seal. Blow into the patient's mouth and watch to see whether his chest rises.
- Continue to perform sets of chest compressions and rescue breaths until medical assistance arrives, an AED is available, or the victim begins to breathe. If the patient is already breathing, place him or her in a recovery position. Avoiding shock can be accomplished by placing the patient flat on the ground, with the head somewhat lower than the body.
- If the person is conscious and breathing normally, and if burns are evident, cover with regular cling wrap or another non-adhesive dressing, but no ointment or lotion. Do not move if the victim has fallen from a great height. If bleeding is evident, compression and a tourniquet may be required.
An electric shock can be lethal. To avoid serious injury or death, seek immediate medical assistance.