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First Aid for Electric Shock Victims

By: Jonathan Z. Kremer

Someone who is in direct contact with electrical current needs immediate help. The victim may be unable to move because of muscle spasms, or may be unconscious. Rescuing such a person can be very dangerous. If you touch the victim, you yourself  may get caught by the current and become a second victim.

Making sure that you are not stepping in any electrified water on the floor, try to unplug the appliance (turning it off is not good enough) or better yet, turn off the power at the electrical panel. If for any reason turning off the power is not possible, try and get a long piece of wood (a broom handle will do) or anything else that will not conduct electricity, and try to push the current away from the victim. You can also try some dry rope or clothing, and possibly loop it around the victim's arm or leg, pulling them free of the current.

PLEASE NOTE: If someone is being electrocuted by high-voltage current, do not go near them. High voltage currents can arc (jump) as far as 7 meters. Normal types of insulation will not protect you. Call for emergency help.

Unless there is immediate danger, do not move the victim. Keep him/her lying down. Unconscious victims should be placed on their side to allow drainage of fluids. Do not move the victim if there is a suspicion of neck or spine injuries unless absolutely necessary.

If the victim is not breathing, apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If the victim has no pulse, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Then cover the victim with a blanket to maintain body heat, keep the victims head low and get medical attention.

Stay with the victim until help arrives

First Aid for Electrical Burn Victims

Electrical burns vary in severity depending upon: (1) how long the body was in contact with the electric current; (2) the strength of the current; (3) the type of current; and (4) the direction the current takes though the body. Most severe burns are painless, due to the damaged nerves. Often these burns are deep. Electrical burn wounds may look minor on the outside, but could be severe on the inside.

If the person is conscious and there are no signs of shock (such as pale and clammy skin, weakness, bluish lips and fingernails, having a rapid pulse, and decreasing alertness), begin treating the burned area. Do not touch burns, break blisters, or remove burned clothing. Do not apply grease or oil to the burn. Cover the burn with a dry, sterile dressing. Continue to keep the victim from getting chilled. Seek medical help as soon as possible.

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