Electric Shock happens when a person comes into contact with a source of electrical energy such as electric outlet or wire. The energy that flows through a part of the body causes the shock. Minor cases usually don’t result in injury. But severe ones can inflict serious damage to the body or even cause death. Burn is the common injury acquired from an electric shock.
Various factors come into play when determining the extent and type of damage that electric shock may cause. Factors include the type of current (AC or DC), amount of electrical energy in terms of voltage, and pathway of electricity. Low voltage electric shocks, which involve less than 500 volts, don’t typically cause significant damage to the body. Anything above that can pose serious threat to anyone who’s exposed to it.
Children are often victims of low voltage electric shock (110 to 220 volts), which are normally found in a household setting. That’s because children as curious beings explore their surroundings. If the house is not childproofed, there’s a bigger chance of putting a child at risk of electrocution. Sixty three percent of electric shock injuries are accounted to electrical cords and extension cords while wall outlets are the cause of 15 percent of these injuries.
It’s important to know the symptoms of electric shock so you can take the necessary steps in the emergency procedure. Burn is the most common symptom. Shortness of breath, forceful muscular contraction, chest pain, abdominal pain, pain in the hand or feet or deforming of a body part are the other symptoms to watch out if you suspect a victim has been electrocuted.
Low voltage shocks that do not lead to any burns or symptoms don’t require any care. But if the electric shock that occurred is a high voltage or if it resulted in burns, it is imperative to seek emergency medical help.
Remember that giving help to someone who sustained or is sustaining a high voltage shock should be taken with extra precaution, as you can be a second victim. Call emergency personnel 911 and they will notify the electric company to shut off the power. It’s important not to move someone who’s fallen from severe shock as he/she may have serious neck injury.
Treatment depends on the gravity of the injury. Usually, minor burns are treated with the use of topical antibiotic ointment and dressings. For more severe cases, surgery may be in order. Cleaning the wounds and, possibly, skin grafting may be necessary. When there are damaged muscles in the arms, legs or hands, amputation may be ordered by the doctor.
Prevent electrical injury by upholding safety standards at home. Check all power cords and extension cords. Don’t use appliances that are not functioning properly. All sockets not in use should be covered so that kids don’t play with them. Replace damaged or broken cords, or those that have exposed wires. Never use electrical device while you’re near water.