Electric Shocks: Signs and Symptoms Guide

Electric Shocks: Signs and Symptoms Guide

In the age which we currently live we’re dependent on electricity for almost everything. We cannot forget, however, that electricity is dangerous if handled incorrectly. Thankfully statistics show that the number of electricity-related injuries in the workplace are at a record low, but these incidents are not completely gone. In this post we cover how to approach and incident should you see the signs of an electrical shock.

Signs and Symptoms

An electric shock occurs when a person is exposed to a flow of electricity between two parts of the human body. This causes a current to flow that can block the electrical signals between the brain and muscles. This may have a number of effects including:

  • Stopping the heart from beating properly;
  • Preventing the casualty from breathing;
  • Causing muscle spasms. This loss of muscle control often means the person cannot “let go” or escape the electric shock;
  • Electrical and thermal burns.

The exact effect is dependent upon a large number of things including the size of the voltage, which parts of the body are involved, how damp the person is, and the length of time the current flows.

Approaching a Casualty

If you think someone is suffering from electric shock, approach with extreme caution.

Separate the person from the source of electricity as quickly as possible. The best way of doing this is to turn off the supply, for example, by unplugging the appliance or by turning the mains off at the fusebox. If this isn’t possible, then try to remove the source of electricity from the person using a piece of insulating material, such as a length of wood.

Next Steps

After removing the person from the source of electricity carry out the regular primary survey. However, if the person is unconscious, call 999 immediately. If their breathing has stopped then begin CPR procedures. 999 should also be called so they can respond as quickly as possible.

Where the person is conscious and seems well, it is advisable to continue to monitor their condition, as the effects of an electric shock may not be immediately obvious. They may have sustained internal problems including deep-seated burns, muscle damage and broken bones. Surface burns can be treated in the normal way by cooling.

Best Practice

The best way to deal with electric shocks is to ensure they never happen in the first place. Ensure your colleagues and friends are aware of the correct procedures for dealing with electricity and are always vigilant in situations which could result in exposed wires or components.

The Health and Safety Executive also has a library of information on electrical safety, which outlines best practice around electricity.