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Minor Electric Shocks & Burns: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Electric Shock Overview

An electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with an electrical energy source. Electrical energy flows through a portion of the body causing a shock. Exposure to electrical energy may result in no injury at all or may result in devastating damage or death.

Burns are the most common injury from electric shock.

Electric Shock Causes

Adolescents and adults are prone to high voltage shock caused by mischievous exploration and exposure at work. About 1,000 people in the United States die each year as a result of electrocution. Most of these deaths are related to on-the-job injuries.

Many variables determine what injuries may occur, if any. These variables include the type of current (AC or DC), the amount of current (determined by the voltage of the source and the resistance of the tissues involved), and the pathway the electricity takes through the body. Low voltage electricity (less than 500 volts) does not normally cause significant injury to humans. Exposure to high voltage electricity (greater than 500 volts) has the potential to result in serious damage.

If you are going to help someone who has sustained a high voltage shock, you need to be very careful that you don’t become a second victim of a similar electrical shock. If a high voltage line has fallen to the ground, there may be a circle of current spreading out from the tip of the line. Your best bet may be to call 911. The electric company will be notified so that the power can be shut off. A victim who has fallen from a height or sustained a severe shock causing multiple jerks may have a serious neck injury and should not be moved without first protecting the neck.

Children are not often seriously injured by electricity. They are prone to shock by the low voltage (110-220 volts) found in typical household current. In children aged 12 years and younger, household appliance electrical cords and extension cords caused more than 63% of injuries in one study. Wall outlets were responsible for 15% of injuries.

Electric Shock Symptoms

A person who has suffered an electric shock may have very little external evidence of injury or may have obvious severe burns. The person could even be in cardiac arrest.

  • Burns are usually most severe at the points of contact with the electrical source and the ground. The hands, heels, and head are common points of contact.
  • In addition to burns, other injuries are possible if the person has been thrown clear of the electrical source by forceful muscular contraction. Consideration should be given to the possibility of a spine injury. The person may have internal injuries especially if they are experiencing any shortness of breath, chest pain, or abdominal pain.
  • Pain in a hand or foot or a deformity of a part of the body may indicate a possible broken bone resulting from the electric shock.
  • In children, the typical electrical mouth burn from biting an electric cord appears as a burn on the lip. The area has a red or dark, charred appearance.

When to Seek Medical Care

For a high-voltage shock, seek care at a hospital’s emergency department. Following a low-voltage shock, call the doctor for the following reasons:

  • It has been more than 5 years since your last tetanus booster
  • Burns that are not healing well
  • Burns with increasing redness, soreness, or drainage
  • Any electric shock in a pregnant woman

A person shocked by high voltage (500 volts or more) should be evaluated in the emergency department. It may be prudent to get prehospital care, usually obtained by calling 911. Following a low-voltage shock, go to the emergency department for the following concerns:

  • Any noticeable burn to the skin
  • Any period of unconsciousness
  • Any numbness, tingling, paralysis, vision, hearing, or speech problems
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Any electric shock if you’re more than 20 weeks’ pregnant
  • Any other worrisome symptoms

Exams and Tests

At the Emergency Department, the doctor’s primary concern is to determine if significant unseen injury exists. Injury may occur to muscles, the heart, or the brain from the electricity or to any bones or other organs from being thrown from the electric source.

The doctor may order various tests depending on the history and physical examination. Tests may include any or none of the following:

  • ECG to check the heart
  • Complete blood count
  • Blood or urine test or both for muscle enzymes (would indicate significant muscle injury)
  • X-rays to look for fractures or dislocations, both of which may be caused by a near electrocution
  • CT scan

Electric Shock Treatment Self-Care at Home

Brief low-voltage shocks that do not result in any symptoms or burns of the skin do not require care. For any high-voltage shock, or for any shock resulting in burns, seek care at a hospital’s emergency department. A doctor should evaluate electric cord burns to the mouth of a child.

Medical Treatment

Treatment depends on the severity of the burns or the nature of other injuries found.

  • Burns are treated according to severity.
    • Minor burns may be treated with topical antibiotic ointment and dressings.
    • More severe burns may require surgery to clean the wounds or even skin grafting.
    • Severe burns on the arms, legs, or hands may require surgery to remove damaged muscle or even amputation.
  • Other injuries may require treatment.
    • Eye injuries may require examination and treatment by an ophthalmologist, an eye specialist.
    • Broken bones require splinting, casting, or surgery to stabilize the bones.
    • Internal injuries may require observation or surgery.

Next Steps Prevention

Steps to prevent electrical injury depend primarily on the age of people involved.

  • For children younger than 12 years, most electrical injuries are caused by power cords. Inspect your power cords and extension cords. Replace any cords that have broken or cracked external covering and any cord that has exposed wire.
    • Do not allow children to play with any electrical cord.
    • Limit use of extension cords and be sure the cord is rated for the current (measured in amps) that will be drawn by the device being powered.
    • Use outlet covers to protect infants from exploring electrical outlets.
    • Update old, ungrounded electrical outlets to grounded (3-prong) systems. Replace outlets near any water (sink, tub) with fused (GFCI) outlets.
  • In children older than 12 years, most electrical injuries result from exploring and activities around high-power systems. Explain to adolescent children that they should not climb on power towers, play near transformer systems, or explore electrified train rails or other electrical systems.
  • Among adults, use of common sense can help reduce electrical injury. People who work with electricity should always check that the power is off before working on electrical systems. Avoid use of any electrical device near water. Be careful of standing in water when working with electricity.
  • Use caution when outdoors during a thunderstorm containing lightning. Protect yourself from lightning strikes by seeking shelter in a sturdy building or crouching low and away from trees and metal objects if caught outdoors.



Recovery from electric shock depends on the nature and severity of the injuries. The percentage of the body surface area burned is the most important factor affecting prognosis.

If someone who has received an electric shock does not suffer immediate cardiac arrest and does not have severe burns, they are likely to survive.

Infection is the most common cause of death in people hospitalized following electrical injury.

Electrical damage to the brain may result in a permanent seizure disorder, depression, anxiety, or other personality changes.


Media file 1: Electric shock, contact injury to hand. Photograph by Timothy G. Price, MD.

Media file 2: Electric shock burns due to current flow through metal framed glasses. Photograph by Timothy G. Price, MD.

Media file 3: Electric shock injury to the foot. Photograph courtesy of William Smock, MD.

Media file 4: Electric shock injury to the hand. Photograph courtesy of William Smock, MD.

Synonyms and Keywords

electric shock, electrocution, electrical burn, high voltage shock

Long-term sequelae of electrical injury

Summary of electricity

Electrical injury from lightning has been a feature of human life since time immemorial. Injury due to man-made electrical power sources has been a hazard from the beginning of the 20th century. Most industrial sources of electricity range from 0 Hz (batteries) to 10 kHz (high-tension power lines). There are 2 types of electrical injury: low-voltage injury from sources less than 1000 V, and high-voltage injury from sources greater than 1000 V.

The basic physics of electrical current are represented by the formula V = I × R. This identifies that voltage (V) is a product of current (I) and resistance (R). The terms AC and DC describe the flow of electrical current, with direct current (DC) traveling in one direction and alternating current (AC) resulting from the changing direction of the electrical flow. The number of field directional changes is referred to as a cycle, and 1 cycle per second represents 1 Hz. Standard North American household power is 60 cycles per second, or 60 Hz.

It seems counterintuitive, but low-voltage electrical injuries are more often fatal than high-voltage injuries are. With sources greater than 300 V, current might be transmitted by arcing caused by formation of conductive plasma between the source and the ground. The blast effect of high-voltage arcing can throw the victim away from the source, limiting the contact time. In such situations the degree of injury can be surprisingly small. However, a 60-Hz AC current can stimulate muscle contraction, causing an involuntary grip that prolongs the contact with the electrical current and that substantially increases the degree of injury. In general, high-voltage injury results in a greater degree of acute injury, but the potential for a spectrum of late sequelae of electrical injury is not affected by the magnitude of electrical force.1,47

Electricity follows the path of least resistance through the body and creates heat, resulting in thermal damage to various tissues along the path of the current. Tissues with high resistance experience more damage from heat. Bone, tendon, and fat have greater resistance than skin; nerve and vascular tissue have less resistance. Muscle tissue has intermediate resistance, but the greater volume of muscle tissue results in muscle carrying most of the current with an electrical injury. Compared with general burn or thermal injuries, electrical injury results in substantially greater injury to nerve, muscle, bone, and skin, with more complications and short- and long-term morbidity.8

Immediate effects of electrical injury

Immediate effects of electrical injury are obvious: burns, cardiac arrhythmias, paresthesias, seizures, and sensory and motor deficits.1,4,9 Acute neurologic symptoms after electrical injury have a better prognosis for recovery than delayed-onset neurologic symptoms do.10 The initial electrical injury might result in a transient neurapraxialike situation, but progressive cellular damage and death account for the evolution of delayed-onset symptoms. The severity of the electrical injury is, however, not proportional to the source voltage, visible burns, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, or neuroimaging findings. Electrical injury is unique in that it typically results in low mortality rates, but very high rates of short- and long-term morbidity.125

Electrical injury causes direct damage to nerves. Proprioceptive nerves are the most prone to damage, followed by nerves involved in touch, pressure, motor function, pain, and temperature; preganglionic autonomic, nonmyelinated pain fibres; and finally postganglionic autonomic nerves.15 Thus, there might be a valid basis for claims of unsteadiness and frequent falls in the absence of hard neurologic findings after electrical injury.

Long-term sequelae of electrical injury

The long-term sequelae of electrical injury are difficult to study. The strength of the literature is impaired by the necessity of retrospective methods and case studies that typically describe small cohorts. Despite these limitations, there are consistent reports of similar findings of late effects of electrical injury.125

Neurologic: Permanent peripheral neurologic injury at the entry site of the current is extremely common after electrical injury.1,4,6,9,23 Peripheral mononeuropathies or polyneuropathies are common sequelae of electrical injury.1,4,5,10,22 Neurologic symptoms are believed to arise from structural lesions such as hemorrhage, cerebral edema, or chromatolysis of pyramidal cells.18 However, possible organic damage does not readily explain the delayed onset of symptoms sometimes occurring days to years after electrical injury.

Psychological: Neuropsychological sequelae of electrical injury are common, including behavioural changes and difficulty with verbal memory and attention.5,13,16,19,21 Irritability, frustration, anger, and physically aggressive behaviour have been described after electrical injury in persons without preinjury mood or personality disorders.18,21 These effects are often very difficult to assess, and preinjury psychopathology augments the neuropsychological effects of electrical injury.13 Neurologic (P = .02) and psychological (P = .006) symptoms are significantly more prevalent in those who have suffered electrical injury than in control groups.2,24 As many as 78% of those who have experienced electrical injury develop a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, psychiatric diagnosis.22 Several possible explanations for the neuropsychological sequelae have been proposed,1 including progressive neurologic compromise or increasing stress as patients attempt to resume preinjury activity and employment activities and realize the extent of their biopsychosocial deficits.13 Several authors have noted similarity between the nonfocal neuropsychological sequelae of electrical injury and head trauma.1,16 This supports the notion that mechanisms other than thermal injury from the electric current are involved in symptom genesis.5,13

Although electrical injury victims often endorse a variety of symptoms similar to those resulting from traumatic brain injury, the literature on brain injury symptomatology in relation to electrical injury is not reliable. Most of the studies performed relied on retrospective questionnaires, or cursory cognitive assessments in which bias and effort were not examined at all. Patients with various kinds of trauma within the previous month, but no diagnosed head injury, endorsed cognitive symptoms if they had concurrent emotional distress. On formal cognitive assessment, only those patients with objective brain injury had objective cognitive difficulties. This suggests the need to perform comprehensive neuropsychological assessment to validate brain injury associated with electrical injury.2,16,19

Depression and posttraumatic stress disorder have been described with greater frequency in electrical injury patients who experience the phenomenon of “no-let-go” or involuntary muscle contraction prohibiting their release from the electric current.13 Loss of consciousness, altered states of consciousness (amnesia), and being knocked away from the electrical source are also correlated with clinical diagnoses of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.18 Objective measures have identified that electrical injury results in considerable emotional distress and anxiety, with poor quality-of-life, sexuality, and physical scores.21 However, 5 years after injury, physical scores improve on quantitative assessment, but measures of work satisfaction, sexuality, and affect remain substandard.19 Studies have shown that 2 years after the date of electrical accident, victims are 14 times more likely to be affected by a formal Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, psychiatric diagnosis than those who suffered traumatic brain injury or those in burn populations.13,21 Further, patients with previous psychiatric diagnoses have worse outcomes following electrical injury, as psychiatric diagnoses can confound the expression of subjective cognitive and emotional concerns. The progression of psychiatric difficulty in patients after electrical injury is important considering that the literature demonstrates that other traumatically injured populations improve with time from the injury.21 As a result, those who have suffered electrical injury demonstrate deficits on all cognitive outcome measures, including verbal memory, executive functioning, and attention.17 This raises questions about whether electrical injury has unique properties that induce chronic and progressive psychiatric distress.21

Ocular: As many as 6% of those suffering electrical injury will develop cataracts in the first year following the injury, with a smaller number of additional patients developing cataracts within 3 years.6,11,18 Often the head is involved as the point of electrical contact, and cataract formation is greater on the side that is nearer to the site of entry of the electrical current. However, ocular changes do not occur in electrical injury at voltages less than 200 V.11

Pain: Pain is a common and difficult complaint after electrical injury.1,7,18,23,24 It is often multifactorial and appears disproportionate to any measurable neuropathy. The literature identifies that many patients will not be satisfactorily relieved of pain after electrical injury, regardless of treatment methods used, but combining somatic and psychosocial techniques results in the most favourable outcomes.5

summarizes the long-term sequelae described in the literature.

Table 1

Long-term sequelae of electrical injury

Depression Memory loss Generalized pain
Posttraumatic stress disorder Numbness Fatigue, exhaustion
Insomnia Headache Reduced range of motion
Nightmares Chronic pain Contracture
Anxiety Weakness Pruritus
Flashbacks Poor concentration Muscle spasm, twitches, aches
Fear of electricity Paresthesia Headache, migraine
Frustration Syncope Night sweats, fever, chills
Hyperarousal Loss of balance Joint stiffness
Panic attacks Gait ataxia
Low self-esteem Sciatica
Guilt Carpal tunnel
Moodiness Seizure disorders
Memory loss or impairment Dizziness
Increased temper Poor coordination
Reduced attention span Tinnitus
Poor verbal learning Tremor

The invisible injuries of electrical shock and getting patients ‘Back on Track’

It takes seconds for a bolt of electricity to course through your body and months, even years, to fully recover. “You can’t tell just by looking at a patient what some of the complex, life-altering effects of electrical injuries are,” says John Cho, Occupational Therapist and clinical coordinator for the outpatient Back on Track rehab program at St. John’s Rehab Hospital.

The patients look like you or me. Everything is fine on the surface, but there’s much more going on underneath. Some are recovering from visible injuries such as burns or fractures, but may also be experiencing neurological dysfunctions, like muscle twitching, tightness, weakness or a loss of sensation.  They may have difficulty doing simple things like walking, using everyday tools or workplace equipment, or even listening, remembering, and explaining their symptoms.  

A multidisciplinary team of specialists at St. John’s Rehab work together to provide comprehensive customized assessment and treatment for these complex, invisible and unpredictable injuries. For example, a physiotherapist may work with a patient to regain the strength it takes to open a clenched fist. An occupational therapist will help the same patient close it at will, so that they can hold a pencil to write or a fork to eat. Until patients can regain that independence, a psychologist will help them overcome sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety and help them stay motivated to participate in rehabilitation. The Back on Track rehabilitation team also includes nurses, social workers and other medical specialists that address the unique and complex rehabilitation needs of each patient.

Electrical injury referrals are accepted by the Back on Track program from physicians and through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The program also includes an electrical injury telemedicine component, which allows patients to be seen via video conferencing by the team at St. John’s Rehab and acute-care partner Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. In addition to electrical injuries, the Back on Track team provides outpatient care to clients of the WSIB and auto insurers. “An electrical injury doesn’t have to be a barrier in reaching life goals,” says Cho.  “Each discipline works together so that patients can regain a function or learn a new strategy to achieve the same function.”

Patients have access to complementary forms of therapy such as chiropody, chiropractic and aquatic massage.  “Acupuncture has been effective in relieving pain, and combination therapies, such as a psychology and massage session together, have been used to strengthen relaxation,” says Dr. Sandeep Hunjan, Clinical Psychologist at St. John’s Rehab.

There aren’t many electrical injury patients in Canada and they are often challenged or misunderstood by family, co-workers, insurers and employers. Electrical injuries are not immediately visible, they don’t show up on traditional tests and no two cases are alike: each person presents a different constellation of symptoms which arise slowly and unpredictably. “The signs and symptoms of electrical injuries are not readily taught or readily recognized,” explains Dr. Joel Fish, St. John’s Rehab’s Chief of Staff and the Medical Director for the burn rehab program.

Some patients even go back to work confused and unable to understand what’s going on inside their own bodies. New issues can show up weeks or months later and are less likely to be attributed back to the electrical accident. This reduces the chance that patients will see electrical injury specialists who can provide the help they need. “The best thing for anyone who has been in an electrical contact accident is early intervention,” says Dr. Fish. “A specialized, comprehensive assessment by a multidisciplinary team will result in a plan of care that minimizes future complications, such as permanent disability or other long-term effects.”

But, few patients are referred to specialists where they can be assessed, treated and studied. According to Environment Canada’s website, 60 to 70 people are injured by lightning each year. The Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada states that 600 to 800 people experience workplace electrical accidents annually. If provided with the right care, these people can recover from electrical injuries and successfully return to work, their communities and lives.

People from across the country have been assessed and treated at St. John’s Rehab Hospital since the electrical injury program began in 2003. Currently, St. John’s Rehab and Sunnybrook are Canada’s only specialized rehab and acute care facilities working clinically and publishing research about electrical injuries. Articles are available on the long term effects, the rates of return to work and pain characteristics. St. John’s Rehab is conducting research with the University of Toronto on emerging trends in thermal chemical burn and electrical injury patients. Ongoing research will help develop new therapies that may benefit existing and future patients.

“One of the benefits of St. John’s Rehab’s program is that we can recognize the patterns of symptoms,” says Dr. Cathy Martin-Doto, Clinical Psychologist. “Instead of patients having to retell the same story, we can say, ‘we’ve seen this before,’ ” adds Dr. Hunjan. Instead of explaining what it’s like to live with an electrical injury; patients at St. John’s Rehab can focus on recovery and returning to their lives.

For more information visit www.stjohnsrehab.com

Electrical injury: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

1. If you can do so safely, turn off the electrical current. Unplug the cord, remove the fuse from the fuse box, or turn off the circuit breakers. Simply turning off an appliance may NOT stop the flow of electricity. Do NOT attempt to rescue a person near active high-voltage lines.

2. Call your local emergency number, such as 911.

3. If the current can’t be turned off, use a non-conducting object, such as a broom, chair, rug, or rubber doormat to push the person away from the source of the current. Do not use a wet or metal object. If possible, stand on something dry that doesn’t conduct electricity, such as a rubber mat or folded newspapers.

4. Once the person is away from the source of electricity, check the person’s airway, breathing, and pulse. If either has stopped or seems dangerously slow or shallow, start first aid.

5. CPR should be started if the person is unconscious and you can’t feel a pulse. Perform rescue breathing on a person who is unconscious and not breathing or is breathing ineffectively.

6. If the person has a burn, remove any clothing that comes off easily and rinse the burned area in cool, running water until the pain subsides. Give first aid for burns.

7. If the person is faint, pale, or shows other signs of shock, lay them down, with the head slightly lower than the trunk of the body and the legs elevated, and cover him or her with a warm blanket or a coat.

8. Stay with the person until medical help arrives.

9. Electrical injury is frequently associated with explosions or falls that can cause additional severe injuries. You may not be able to notice all of them. Do not move the person’s head or neck if the spine may be injured.

10. If you are a passenger in a vehicle struck by a power line, remain in it until help arrives unless a fire has started. If necessary, try to jump out of the vehicle so that you do not maintain contact with it while also touching the ground. 

Electrical Shock or Burn | Michigan Medicine

Topic Overview

When you touch a light switch to turn on a light, you may receive a minor electrical shock. You may feel tingling in your hand or arm. Usually, this tingling goes away in a few minutes. If you do not have damage to the skin or other symptoms, there is no reason to worry.

If your skin is burned by electricity, there is cause for concern. Electrical burns may look minor at first. But the burn may be more serious if tissues along the path of the electrical current are damaged. All the damage from these burns might not be seen for up to 10 days after the burn. There might be burns where the electrical current enters the body and also where it leaves the body.

When electricity passes though your body, the electricity may injure blood vessels, nerves, and muscles. The electrical current may cause rapid and severe swelling in the throat and lungs, making it hard for a person to breathe. As the electrical current passes through the heart muscle, heartbeat problems can develop.

Electricity passing through your body can be powerful enough to cause a fall. This can cause other injuries such as fractures. Electricity can also cause strong muscle contractions that can cause injury.

Lightning strike

The skin burn from lightning strikes may not be severe. Lightning current usually flows over the body (flashover) and does not injure deeper organs or tissues, which is the reason some people can survive a lightning strike. A direct lightning strike can occur when a person is holding or wearing metal objects. Lightning can also strike objects near a person, and some of the lightning current can travel to the person indirectly (called a splash). The electrical current from lightning can cause the same problems as from other electrical sources, depending on how direct the strike is. Participating in outdoor sports activities increases your risk of being struck by lightning.

You need to be evaluated by a doctor if you have been struck by lightning, even if the injury appears minor. Burns from a lightning strike or electrical power also need to be evaluated by a doctor.

Stun guns and tasers

Stun guns and tasers are called “electronic weapons.” They are handheld weapons that use electricity to stun a person. The electricity causes uncontrollable muscle contractions. After being stunned with electricity, the person usually falls to the ground.

These weapons are less likely to cause death or injury than other weapons, such as handguns. But stun guns and tasers can cause serious medical problems, such as irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). Others types of injuries include burns, cuts, muscle problems (rhabdomyolysis), twisting of a testicle (testicular torsion), and miscarriage.

Electric Shock Injuries

Most electricians know the tingling sensation of a small amount of electrical current passing through the body. When a crew member is “just a little bit off,” others will often joke they’ve been shocked one too many times, said Derek Vigstol, senior electrical specialist at NFPA, on an NFPA Podcast episode that aired in February. 

But there’s more truth to the joke than most people realize. 

“A subset of [electrical injury patients] are a little off,” said Dr. Neil Pliskin, a neuropsychologist at the Chicago Electrical Trauma Rehabilitation Institute (CETRI). “And what’s off is their thinking speed is slower—it’s harder for them to recall information on their own. Some individuals complain of significant anxiety and depression while never having had symptoms like that before.” 

RELATED: Listen to a new podcast on electric shock injuries on the job and in the home

Vigstol interviewed Pliskin and Drs. Raphael Lee and David Weiss for the episode, which aired during National Burn Awareness Week. The three renowned specialists discussed the devastating physical impact electrical shock can have on the human body, from burns and musculoskeletal pain to cardiac arrest, as well as some of the lesser-known effects it can have on the brain. NFPA Journal is revisiting this podcast, as well as a video series released late last year, to mark National Electrical Safety Month, which is observed each year in May. 

Nerves ‘gone haywire’ 

Pliskin said about 75 percent of patients who’ve come to CETRI present with “complaints of failing memories, complaints of concentration difficulties, and significant changes in mood and emotions—to the point that a psychiatrist or psychologist diagnoses conditions like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.” 

It can be especially troubling to see individuals who don’t seem to have major physical injuries exhibit these symptoms, Pliskin added. “Some people who have seemingly minor physical consequences as a result of their injuries have maximal changes in mood, emotion, and thinking abilities,” he said. “I’m talking about firefighters, about emergency medical responders, about people who have been trained to be resistant to stress who now, after they’ve had an electrical shock, don’t want to leave the house, they’re crying all the time, they’re upset, they’re irritable.” 

The physical toll electrical injuries take on the body, including pain and lack of sleep, can exacerbate these behavioral health symptoms, the doctors said. 

“They can have pain throughout their whole bodies, and that just adds to what Dr. Pliskin was stating,” said Weiss, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist. “If you have pain, everything is worse.”

Electrical injuries are still not fully understood in medicine, and Lee said CETRI continues to research the phenomenon. “We have made some progress in trying to understand these problems and to develop therapeutic approaches, but we don’t have all the answers,” said Lee, a surgeon and trauma medicine physician. “I think we’re asking the right questions, such as ‘What happens in an electrical shock patient that triggers all these processes?’”

Lee said doctors believe many of the effects are due to nerves not healing correctly. “The nervous system and the muscles are injured,” he said. “And just like when you get a cut on your skin and it heals, it’s not the same as it was before.” 

In terms of treatment, the doctors said it can be difficult to find a one-size-fits-all approach—people have different pain thresholds and biological abilities to heal. In general, Weiss said treatment is aimed at regaining control of a nervous system that’s “gone haywire.” 

“Normally, when you touch a body part it’s interpreted as touch, but in these patients, touch can cause muscle spasms,” Weiss said. “How do you reverse that process? If you let your body control you, that’s a bad thing, so you have to start controlling your body. When that idea is grasped by patients, they go all in and there’s a lot of hope and ability to reverse this process.”

On May 18, as part of NFPA’s 125th Anniversary Conference Series, a daylong schedule of virtual educational presentations on electrical safety will feature a presentation from Pliskin on neuropsychological issues following electrical injuries. Register for the event here. 

Shining a light on survivors 

CETRI isn’t the only place survivors of electrical shock can go for holistic, long-term care that meets not only their physical needs, but also their psychological needs. 

“At the burn center at [the University of California, Irvine] we take a very deliberate approach to treating the whole person, meaning not just the acute medical and surgical needs, but also paying attention to the psychosocial or the emotional, mental, spiritual, and entire social dynamic that the patient and their families are in,” said Dr. Victor Joe, a burn surgeon at UCI’s Health Regional Burn Center. “We extend this into the outpatient clinic. … In the clinic visit we will have therapists, social workers, burn psychologists, and child life specialists.” 

Joe spoke with NFPA late last year for a video series aimed at raising awareness of electrical injuries. The videos, produced by NFPA and the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, were released as part of the longstanding NFPA Faces of Fire campaign, which originally promoted the importance of fire sprinklers through the stories of burn survivors.

“Exposure to electricity poses a real injury risk to workers and the public,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “Many people are not aware of electrical dangers, and yet each year people are injured or killed as a result of these hazards. The Faces of Fire Electrical campaign helps educate people about the true dangers of electricity and ways to prevent related tragedies from happening.”

In addition to the video featuring Joe, six other videos feature survivors of electrical injuries sharing their stories. One such survivor, Samoana Matagi, a former power line worker, lost both his hands in 2010 after nearly 15,000 volts of electricity surged through his body during an accident. 

“We as power line workers need to see that a person standing up for safety is actually more macho than a person who’s not standing up for safety,” Matagi says in the video. “I go and talk to other burn survivors and tell them that inside of them there’s a power to overcome their accident. They can tap into that by doing certain things. It’s called resilience. I know that everybody has resilience, and we can build up resilience and work through our accidents.”

Watch all of the videos from the campaign at nfpa.org/facesoffire. 

Electric shocks and burns – symptoms and treatments

On this page

What is an electric shock or burn?

Electric shocks are caused by contact with live electricity that sends an electric current through the body. Sometimes the electricity can cause a burn, often where the electricity entered or exited the body.

Electric shocks can cause little more than a fright and some pain, or they can be severe enough to knock someone unconscious and stop their heart.

When should I call an ambulance or go to the emergency department?

An electric shock can be life threatening. Call an ambulance on triple zero (000) if someone has had an electric shock and:

  • lost consciousness, even for a second
  • they are breathing very fast or very slow
  • their heartbeat is very fast, or very slow, or irregular

If you do not call an ambulance, you should still visit the nearest emergency department or see your doctor as soon as possible.

Even if you can’t see a physical injury, an electric shock might cause internal damage. Even for a mild electric shock, you still need medical attention to assess whether it’s affected the heart.

Always take someone who has been shocked to the nearest emergency department for assessment.

What should I do while waiting for an ambulance?

If someone near you receives an electric shock, do not put yourself in danger:

  • look first, don’t touch — the person may still be in contact with the electricity, and if you touch them, you will receive an electric shock
  • switch off the electricity at the mains, remove fuses, turn off all powerpoints and unplug all cords before approaching the person
  • if that’s not possible, use material that does not conduct electricity, such as a dry wooden broom handle, to separate the person from the electricity source
  • take particular care if the victim is in contact with water, which carries electricity

When it is safe, check if the person is conscious and breathing. Gently touch and talk to the person. If there is no response, start CPR.

If there is an electrical burn, you can treat it in the same way as you would any other burn. Put the burnt area under running water for at least 20 minutes then cover with a sterile gauze bandage, if available, or a clean cloth. Don’t use a blanket or towel, because loose fibers can stick to the burns.

What are the symptoms of an electric shock or burn?

The signs and symptoms of an electric shock depend on the type of current, how high the voltage is, how long the person was in contact with electricity, and their overall health.

The symptoms of an electric shock are:

  • difficulty breathing or no breathing at all
  • a weak, erratic pulse or no pulse at all
  • burns
  • loss of consciousness
  • cardiac arrest

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use our burns, scalds and electric shocks Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes electric shocks or burns?

Common causes include:

  • exposed electrical wires
  • water on electrical appliances
  • cutting through a live cable
  • old wiring
  • faulty appliances

Electric shocks are occasionally caused by lightning.

How are electric shocks or burns treated?

In the emergency department, doctors will run tests to check the heart or damage to the soft tissue of the body. They may give you painkillers.

Most people with an electric shock or burn will be able to go home, unless they have heart damage that needs to be treated in hospital.

Can electric shocks or burns be prevented?

You can ensure electrical safety in the home by installing safety switches and making sure they are tested regularly. Always use a licensed electrician for electrical work and make sure you repair any damaged powerpoints or switches.

Never use a power tool, appliance or lead that you know is faulty or has a frayed cord. Make sure there are no electrical appliances used in wet areas or near pools.

At work, make sure all electrical equipment is regularly inspected, tested and tagged. For more information, visit Safe Work Australia.

Are there complications of electric shocks or burns?

The most common complication of an electrical injury is infection.

Some people have damage to the brain, which can cause seizures, depression, anxiety or personality changes.

90,000 First aid for electric shock

Electric shock is a dangerous injury that can seriously endanger the victim. This is due to the fact that with an electric shock, the heart, lungs and other internal organs can suffer.

First aid for electric shock

Electric shock is a dangerous injury that can seriously endanger the victim’s life.This is due to the fact that with an electric shock, the heart, lungs and other internal organs can suffer. In this case, violations in their functioning can manifest themselves after a certain time after injury.

In this regard, after a strong electric shock, the victim must be taken to a medical institution, even if at the moment there are no signs of a serious deterioration in his condition. Prior to this, constant monitoring of his well-being is necessary. In addition, electric shock first aid may be required to save the victim’s life.

First steps

To save the life of a victim in case of a strong electric shock, you must first take the following actions:

  • First of all, you need to stop the effect of electric current on the victim. To do this, if possible, you must immediately turn off the electrical installation.
  • If the victim is holding onto a bare wire or cable, it can be cut with an ax or other tool with a dielectric handle (dry wooden or insulated).
  • If it is not possible to turn off the electricity, the victim must be pushed or pulled away. To do this, in no case should you touch a person, use metal or wet objects. This will result in an electric shock to the caregiver. Use wooden sticks, planks, dry ropes, etc. You can also pull on the victim’s outer clothing if it is dry. The use of such improvised means is allowed only in electrical installations with voltages up to 1,000 volts.
  • In electrical installations with voltages above 1000 volts, special protective equipment and tools must be available that can be used to stop the effect of current on the victim (insulating rods and forceps, dielectric gloves, boots, galoshes).
  • After that, it is necessary to call medical workers. The victim must be laid on a dry board, plywood, etc., check for breathing and pulse, check the pupils.
  • If there is no pulse and breathing, or breathing is intermittent, the pupils are greatly dilated, it is necessary to urgently start providing first aid in case of electric shock.


The victim of the blow must be provided with peace. If he is conscious, he must be comfortably laid and covered with a blanket. Pulse and breathing should be checked regularly prior to the arrival of medical personnel. If there are concomitant injuries or burns, appropriate assistance must be provided. If there are no concomitant injuries and burns, no medication should be given to the victim.

If you lose consciousness, you need to make sure there is breathing and pulse.If they are not violated, the victim is placed on a soft mat, the clothes are unbuttoned so that it does not constrain breathing. If there is blood and mucus in the mouth, they must be removed. The victim needs to be warmed and constantly monitored breathing and pulse. In the absence or violation of breathing and pulse, resuscitation measures are immediately started by performing artificial respiration and chest compressions.

Artificial respiration and chest compressions

Before performing artificial respiration, the victim must be laid down and his head thrown back.In this case, his chin should be on the same level with the neck. After that, you must open your mouth and remove all foreign objects from it. Then a handkerchief or gauze is applied to the victim’s mouth. The caregiver takes a deep breath and exhales air into the victim’s mouth while pinching his nose with his fingers. In this case, the expansion of the chest should be noticeable. The frequency of inspiration should be 10-12 times per minute. Artificial respiration should be continued until complete restoration of spontaneous breathing and the victim’s consciousness.

If an electric shock has no pulse, then artificial respiration is performed in conjunction with an indirect heart massage. To carry it out, it is necessary to connect two hands at the wrists and attach to the lower third of the victim’s sternum. After that, quick rhythmic thrusts are made with a frequency of 60 times per minute, in which the sternum should bend down a little. It is best if artificial respiration and indirect massage are performed by two people. After every 5 strokes on the sternum, one blow is made into the mouth.If resuscitation is performed by one person, then every 10 pushes, 2 injections should be performed in a row. It is necessary to carry out resuscitation measures before the arrival of doctors or before the appearance of the following signs in the victim:

  • restoration of a normal complexion;
  • the appearance of independent uniform breathing;
  • the presence of an independent pulse;
  • Pupil constriction when checked.

The first aid measures taken must be reported to the doctors after their arrival.

90,000 Electric shock: first aid

Electric shock: first aid

In cases where a person is exposed to an electric current, emergency action must be taken. What are these actions, and how to perform them, we will tell you in order.

1. Exemption from electric current
If the victim is under constant influence of electric current, first of all, by any available means it is necessary to free him from this influence, to break the contact of the person with electricity.After all, the longer the duration of exposure to the current, the more severe the consequences will be. The easiest and safest way is to simply turn off the circuit breaker or machine. But, unfortunately, this method may not be the fastest, since the electric shield can be located far enough, or even in a place that is not at all accessible to the person who is saving. In such cases, the easiest way is to free the victim by throwing him away from the current-carrying elements, but at the same time observe some safety rules so as not to suffer yourself.First of all, you should not touch with unprotected hands to a person who has fallen under the current, as well as approach him. It is best to throw it away from the guide using a board or a sufficiently thick stick. In this case, you should pay attention to the fact that the board must be dry, otherwise another case of electric shock is possible. This time the most saving one. If there is no board or stick at hand, then you can simply drag the victim away by wrapping your hands, at least with a plastic bag, grabbing the floors of the clothes.If the clothes are dry, then you can drag them away with unprotected hands, preferably one. But this is a last resort. Another way to get rid of the effects of electric current, which is recommended in all safety guides, is to simply cut the live cable (phase by phase) with a sharp object with an insulated handle. An ax is best suited for this purpose. After it was possible to free the victim from the action of the electric current, it is necessary to provide him with first aid and, of course, call a doctor.

2. First aid for electric shock
The victim, freed from the action of the current, should be comfortably laid on a flat surface with a soft bedding. After that, rub the limbs, if necessary, free the nasal and oral cavities from mucus and blood. To ensure the flow of fresh air, unfasten the clothes, loosen the waist belt, and for the flow of fresh air into the room, it is advisable to open the windows and doors.If the victim is unconscious, give him a sniff of ammonia or at least spray his face with cold water. But sometimes the consequences can be more serious. First of all, this is uneven breathing or its absence at all, the pulse is intermittent or not felt at all, the skin can take on a bluish or pale shade. In such a situation, more serious measures should be taken, such as artificial respiration and chest compressions. Even if everything seemed to go well, the person remained alive, and no outwardly noticeable signs are noticeable, all the same, the victim must be hospitalized for a while, placed under the supervision of a doctor.The fact is that the consequences of a defeat can appear in a few hours or even a day.

3. How to avoid electric shock
The risk of electric shock exists not only in production, but, if not to a greater extent, in everyday life when using household electrical equipment: after all, a person who works directly with electrical installations is nevertheless prepared theoretically and practically. The following are fairly simple rules and recommendations will greatly reduce the likelihood of electric shock.
-Never touch the live parts of mechanisms or equipment if there is no absolute certainty that they are de-energized. First, you should make sure that there is no voltage using devices: a voltmeter, an indicator screwdriver. Also, do not forget that if there is no tension, then it can appear at any moment. It should also be noted that in some, even completely de-energized devices, an electric charge remains for a long time. Therefore, when the plug is removed from the socket, it can become a source of a rather sensitive electric shock.Of course, such a blow is not fatal, but it can cause quite unpleasant consequences. If the work is done at a height, then involuntary movement can cause loss of balance and fall. To avoid accidental contact with live parts, pay attention to the warning signs.
-Never touch the electrical wires and the electrical appliances themselves with wet hands, and in general, monitor the humidity in the room. If flooding suddenly occurs, the electrical wiring should be disconnected until the room is completely dry.When carrying out electrical installation and repair work, you should use a properly tested tool: even a small crack in the insulation on the handles of the pliers can lead to an electric shock.
-Never touch the household electrical equipment connected to the network and objects connected to grounding – water pipes or radiators at the same time. If the insulation of the device “breaks through” the body, then an electric shock, and of sufficient force, is provided. When it comes to a wiring or plugged-in appliance, never try to extinguish the fire with water.Water conducts electricity well, so an electric shock through a stream of water is almost guaranteed. A device that has caught fire, of course, can be extinguished with water if you first unplug the plug.
-Never use electrical appliances if they have external signs of malfunction. First of all, these are cracks in the insulation or plastic case, traces of soot, etc. Following these simple guidelines and recommendations will, if not negate, then greatly reduce the risk of electric shock.

Leonchikova T.A.
Inspector of the Mogilev branch
branch “Energonadzor” RUE “Mogilevenergo”

How to provide assistance to an electric shock victim

In all cases of electric shock, urgently call a doctor and, without waiting for the arrival, immediately proceed to provide the victim with first aid. First aid measures depend on the condition of the victim.

If the victim is conscious , but before that he was fainting or was under current for a long time, he must be provided with complete rest until the doctor arrives.Follow-up of him should last 2-3 hours. If it is impossible to call a doctor quickly, the victim should be urgently taken to a hospital on a stretcher.

If the victim is unconscious , but there is breathing, he must be comfortably laid down, unbuttoned his clothes, provide an influx of fresh air, give a sniff of ammonia, spray with water (not from the mouth), rub and warm the body. If the victim does not breathe well (rarely and convulsively), artificial respiration should be given.If the victim has no signs of life (no breathing, no heartbeat, no pulse), he cannot be considered dead. Death is often only apparent. It is necessary continuously, before the arrival of the doctor, to do artificial respiration and closed (external) heart massage. When such victims are revived, there is a road every second, so first aid must be provided immediately, if possible at the scene of the incident. It is recommended to transfer the victim to another place only in cases where danger continues to threaten him and others, and also when it is impossible to provide assistance on the spot.

If the victim touches live parts that are energized, involuntary muscle contractions occur, as a result of which a person’s fingers are strongly compressed and cannot release a wire or an object under voltage.

The first action in the living quarters should be the quick release of the victim from contact with the live part or the immediate shutdown of that part of the installation to which the victim touches. Grasping the insulated part, it is necessary to pull out the electrical wire, quickly turn off the switch, pull out the plug, de-energizing the emergency section of the network or the device.This will relieve the stress, and the victim will be freed from the passage of electric current through his body.

If it is impossible to disconnect the electrical installation from the network, then you should immediately begin to release the victim from live parts, using insulating objects. If it is at a height, then it is necessary to prevent the possibility of injury if it falls.

Freeing a person from voltage up to 1000 V, you should use a rope, stick, board and other dry object that does not conduct current.The victim can be pulled by dry clothing. When dragging him by his feet, do not touch shoes or clothes without insulating your hands, as shoes and clothes can be damp and conduct an electric current. To insulate your hands, you need to use dielectric gloves, and if they are not there, wrap your hand with any dry cloth. In this case, it is recommended to operate with one hand.

From live parts with a voltage over 1000 V, the victim should be freed using a rod or insulating pliers designed for the corresponding voltage.At the same time, they wear dielectric gloves and boots. It is important to remember the dangers of step voltage when the wire is on the ground.

If you cannot quickly turn off the power of the power line, then you need to short-circuit the wires by throwing a flexible wire of sufficient cross-section over them. One end of the latter is pre-grounded (connected to a metal support, a grounding descent, etc.). If the victim touches one wire, it is sufficient to ground only that wire. First aid after the release of the victim depends on his condition.If he is conscious, then you need to provide him with complete rest for a while, not allowing him to move until the arrival of the doctor.

If the victim breathes very rarely and convulsively, but the pulse is palpable, artificial respiration should be done immediately according to the “mouth-to-mouth” or “mouth-to-nose” method.

In the absence of breathing and pulse, dilated pupils and increasing cyanosis of the skin and mucous membranes, artificial respiration and indirect (external) heart massage should be done. You need to provide assistance before the arrival of the doctor.There are cases when artificial respiration and heart massage, carried out continuously for 3 … 4 hours, brought the victims back to life.

After the release of the victim from the action of electric current

If the victim is unconscious :

  • It is necessary to turn the victim onto his stomach, supporting the cervical spine and head from impact.
  • Call an ambulance 90 103 01 90 104 or 90 103 03 90 104.
  • Call adults for help.
  • Apply cold to the victim’s head.

    To return a person to life, it is necessary to carry out a complex of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but it can only be carried out by a specialist with the skills and knowledge of its implementation.

How to quickly turn the victim onto his stomach:

Place the victim’s hand closest to you behind his head. With one hand, grasp the shoulder farthest from you, and with the other, the waist belt or the waistband of clothing

With one movement, turn the victim with the chest on your knees.

Clean the mouth with your fingers or a tissue and press on the root of the tongue. Apply cold to the head.

In case of thermal burns:


  • Cover burnt surface with a dry, clean cloth.
  • Put cold on top of a dry cloth for 20-30 minutes.
  • Suggest an analgin tablet and an abundant sweet drink.


  • Lubricate the burnt surface with oils and fats, apply powders.
  • Apply a plaster and bandage the burned surface tightly.
  • Lubricate with iodine, brilliant green, ointments.
  • Rip off the remnants of clothing from the burnt surface.
  • Open burn blisters.
  • Offer carbonated water to the victim!

For injuries accompanied by mild general phenomena (fainting, short-term loss of consciousness, dizziness, headache, pain in the heart):

NEEDED to create the victim’s rest and deliver to the hospital.It must be remembered that the general condition of the victim can sharply and suddenly deteriorate in the next few hours after the injury. Pain relievers (analgin tablet) and sedatives (valerian tincture) may be given as first aid.

In case of fainting:

  • Unbutton clothing collar, waist belt.
  • Raise your legs (put rolled clothes, a bag, a box, etc.).
  • Bring a cotton swab with ammonia to the nose (drip no more than 2-3 drops, i.e.because ammonia is an aggressive liquid and can lead to burns of the mucous membranes).

If there is no ammonia : press with your thumb on the painful point located between the septum of the nose and the upper lip.

Electric shock (electrical injury) ›Diseases› DoktorPiter.ru

Electric shock (electric shock) occurs when you touch electrical appliances or are struck by lightning.


Symptoms and injuries from electric shock vary depending on the strength of the current and how it travels through the body. Moreover, in each case, it is impossible to predict exactly how the current will flow, and what the consequences will be. However, it is known that, for example, the current passed from one leg to the other will cause less harm to the body than the current passed from the head to the leg.

With a mild electrical injury, the patient complains of pain at the point of contact between the body and the current source; his skin often has a small burn or “current sign” – a round, painlessly dense gray spot raised above the skin.However, his general condition is satisfactory. Also, a person may feel headache, dizziness, nausea. He may develop “sparks in his eyes” and photophobia.

With a more severe electrical injury, the patient is inhibited, loss of consciousness, a decrease in pain and temperature sensitivity, and a violation of the heart rhythm are possible. This condition may be accompanied by speech arousal. There is a severe burn on the skin.

With a strong electrical injury, breathing is disturbed, even stopping it is possible.However, after termination of contact with the current source, breathing can be restored. In addition, the work of the heart is disrupted – ventricular fibrillation develops. As a result, repeated respiratory arrest may develop due to the heart not supplying oxygen to the lungs. In this case, a lethal outcome is possible.

There is also a chronic electrical injury, which can be obtained during prolonged work near strong sources of current, for example, with generators. This condition is characterized by headache, sleep disturbance, memory impairment, and fatigue.


The first fatal electric shock was sustained in 1879. And since then, their number has been growing. According to statistics, 5% of patients in burn centers received burns precisely when they came into contact with electricity. Moreover, they suffer from devices much more often than from natural electricity (lightning).

In total, there are 4 degrees of severity of electrical injury:

  • electrical trauma of the first degree of severity is characterized by convulsive contractions of skeletal muscles, but loss of consciousness does not occur;
  • with an electrical injury of the II severity, in addition to convulsions, loss of consciousness also occurs, however, breathing and heart function are not disturbed;
  • electrical trauma of the III degree of severity is characterized by convulsions, loss of consciousness, impaired heart function and respiratory failure;
  • with electrical trauma of the IV degree of severity, clinical death occurs.

Electric current has a specific and nonspecific effect on the body. The specific effect consists in the electrochemical, thermal and mechanical effects during the passage of current through the human body.

  • The electrochemical effect consists in the polarization of cell membranes, as a result of which the direction of movement of individual ions and large molecules changes. The result is protein coagulation and tissue necrosis.
  • The thermal effect is manifested by burns of varying intensity.
  • The mechanical action promotes tissue separation, and in some cases even the detachment of body parts. In addition, the current causes excitation of muscles and nerve receptors. As a result, convulsions develop, heart rhythm is disturbed.
  • The nonspecific action of the current is obtained due to its transformation into other types of energy. An example of such an action is a thermal burn from a hot wire.

First aid

It is necessary to stop contact of the victim with the current source as soon as possible.This can be done by turning off the switch, cutting the wire with a wooden ax, or by throwing the wire away with a wooden stick.

If the victim is at a height, before turning off the current, you need to protect the person from injury in the event of a fall.

Lay the victim on a flat surface so that the legs are higher than the head.

It is imperative to call an ambulance for resuscitation and hospitalization of the patient.

After disconnecting a person from the power source, it is necessary to carry out resuscitation measures – artificial respiration and indirect heart massage, but the one who performs these procedures must be able to do them, otherwise the patient can be harmed even more.

If, falling from a height, the victim received a fracture, it is necessary to immobilize the broken limb.


The diagnosis is made by an ambulance doctor. To find out the patient’s condition, an electrocardiogram is done.


Treatment depends on the severity of the lesion. In case of mild electrical injury, the victim is treated with wounds received from contact with an electrical appliance, soothe him, give an anesthetic and an antihistamine.

A patient with extensive wounds is given antibiotics to prevent infection from entering. A plaster cast is applied to the broken limbs, and they are immobilized.

Be sure to prescribe an infusion (intravenous infusion of a large amount of fluid) of electrolytes (saline solutions).

Defibrillation is performed as needed to restore heart rate.


Prevention of electrical injury consists in observing safety precautions when working with electrical appliances.It is also important to regularly check the health of electrical appliances.

When driving near power lines, be careful not to step on the wires lying on the ground, do not push the hanging wires with your hands.

It is necessary to explain to children why they should not stick their fingers and metal objects into the outlet (for safety reasons, it is better to put special plugs for sockets in them) and touch bare wires.

© Dr. Peter

90,000 Teachers – IDGC of Urals, OJSC

Dear colleagues!

Here are the guidelines for conducting an extracurricular hour on the topic “Electrical Safety”, which will help to inform children about the dangers of electric current.You can familiarize yourself with them on this page, or download in PDF format

Power engineers of IDGC of Urals call for vigilance and compliance with the rules of safe behavior when interacting with electricity. This is especially true for children and adolescents. In order to protect children from the unwanted effects of electric current, we adults are obliged to constantly teach children the basics of life safety. It’s so SCARY when the cause of a tragic accident is five minutes that we did not devote to our children.

Among children of different ages, cases of electrical injuries are unevenly distributed, to a greater extent children of primary school age fall under the influence of electric current.

Particular attention should be paid to interaction with this particular age group and to more closely organize work with parents.

These guidelines were developed by the specialists of IDGC of Urals for life safety teachers, class leaders of educational institutions, personnel of health camps for children.They present the basic rules of behavior with electricity at home and on the street for an extra-curricular hour “Electrical Safety”.

You can download:

Plan for an extracurricular hour on the topic “Electrical Safety”

  1. Introduction

  2. Electric shock hazard notion

  3. Effect of electric current on the body

  4. Rules of conduct with electricity in everyday life

  5. Rules of conduct near power facilities

  6. Help to the victim of electric current

  7. Electrical Safety Signs

  8. Test for knowledge of key electrical safety rules


Dear guys! You are well aware of the important role that electricity plays in everyday life and study.It gives us light, warmth, sets in motion various mechanisms that facilitate human labor.

Electricity has taken such a firm place in our life that now it is simply impossible to do without it. She is our irreplaceable assistant. But, providing tremendous help to people, electricity is fraught with mortal danger for those who do not know or neglect the rules of electrical safety, do not know how to handle household appliances, and violate the rules of behavior near power facilities.

Electrical Hazard Statement

Electrical installations of any voltage pose a danger to human life.Remember: there is no safe electric current!

Electrical installations are equipment that is used by power engineers, as well as all household electrical appliances that surround us in everyday life.

A person, touching live parts of electrical installations and bare wires that are energized, turns out to be included in an electrical circuit. Under the influence of voltage, an electric current flows through his body, which disrupts the normal functioning of the body, which causes convulsions, stops breathing and stops the heart.Overheating of certain parts of the body causes severe burns. A person dies or becomes disabled.

The greater the amount of current flowing through the body, the more dangerous it is!

The higher the voltage under which the person is, the greater the current.

A voltage of 12 volts is considered safe. The most widespread in industry, agriculture and everyday life are electrical networks with voltages of 220 and 380 volts (220 volts – for lighting and household appliances, 380 volts – for three-phase electric motors of machines and mechanisms).This voltage is economically beneficial, but very dangerous for humans.

The largest number of fatal accidents occurs with people who have come under 220 and 380 volts.

Electrical appliances that you use at home and at school, electrical grids and substations that you pass by in the yard, on the street and in the field are safe during normal operation. Power engineers have taken care to exclude accidental contact with live parts. All electrical installations have fencing, warning signs and safety posters and are locked.

However, with various insulation damage, wire breakage, lifting on poles, penetration into substations and electrical panels, a real threat to life arises.

That is why it is so important for everyone to know the rules for handling electrical devices and electrical wiring, to warn a friend in time from dangerous pranks near power lines and substations, to be able to protect themselves and other people when a network breakdown is detected.

Effect of electric current on the body

The danger of electric current is that a person does not have special senses to detect electric current at a distance.Electric current is odorless, colorless and silent. It is impossible without special devices to feel whether a given part of an electrical installation is energized or not. This leads to the fact that people are often not aware of the actual danger and do not take the necessary protective measures.

Of great importance in the outcome of the defeat is the path traversed by the current in the human body. The lesion will be more severe if the heart, chest, brain and spinal cord are in the path of the current.The most dangerous paths for the passage of current through a person are: hand-feet, hand-hand.

The immediate causes of death for an electric shock are cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest due to chest muscle paralysis, and electrical shock. The most unfavorable outcome of an electric shock to a person will be in cases where wet hands have touched electrical appliances or an electrical wire in a damp or hot room.

Electric shock can take the following forms:

  • cardiac or respiratory arrest when electric current passes through the body
  • Electric burn
  • Mechanical injury due to muscle contraction under the influence of current
  • arc blinding

Death usually results from cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest, or both. The muscles of the body contract under the action of an electric current.If a person picks up an energized piece of equipment, they may not be able to pull away without assistance. Moreover, he may be attracted to a dangerous place. Under the action of alternating current, the muscles periodically contract with the frequency of the current, but the pause between contractions is not enough to free themselves.

Electric current damage is determined by the strength of the current and the duration of its exposure. The lower the resistance of the human body, the higher the current.Resistance is reduced by the following factors:

  • high voltage
  • skin moisture
  • long exposure time
  • increase in the content of carbon dioxide in the air
  • high air temperature
  • carelessness, mental and psychological unpreparedness for a possible electric shock

The central nervous system suffers most from the action of electric current.Due to its damage, breathing and cardiac activity are disturbed. Areas of the body with the least resistance (i.e. more vulnerable):

  • lateral surfaces of the neck, temples
  • the back of the hand, the surface of the palm between the thumb and forefinger
  • arm above the wrist
  • shoulder, back
  • front leg

Electric burns are much more difficult to heal than conventional thermal burns. Some of the consequences of an electrical injury may appear in a few hours, days, months.The victim must live for a long time in a “sparing” mode and be under the supervision of specialists.

Rules of conduct with electricity in everyday life

The rules for handling electrical appliances are not complicated and easy to remember:

  1. DO NOT use electrical appliances without adult permission.

  2. YOU MUST NOT replace bulbs and fuses yourself, repair electrical wiring and household appliances, open the back covers of televisions and radios, install bells, switches and sockets.Have an adult or an electrician do it!

  3. DO NOT use switches, wall outlets, plugs, bell buttons with broken covers, or household appliances with damaged, charred or twisted cords. THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS! YOU SHOULD NOT ignore such facts. Inform adults about the damage in a timely manner! REMEMBER , smashing the covers of switches, bells, sockets out of mischief, damaging the electrical wiring, you, thereby, commit an offense equal to a crime, as this can lead to the death of people.

  4. DO NOT use faulty electrical appliances. If the TV, refrigerator or vacuum cleaner smells of burnt rubber, if sparks are visible, you must immediately disconnect the device from the mains and tell adults about the faulty device.

  5. DO NOT repair or disassemble electrical appliances yourself.

  6. Switching off the appliance DO NOT pull on the cord .It is necessary to grasp the plug and gently pull it out of the socket.

  7. DO NOT play with electrical outlets. If you see a faulty outlet, switch, bare wire, DO NOT touch anything and tell an adult about it right away!

  8. REMEMBER , electricity hates being near water. To avoid electric shock, DO NOT touch the switched on electrical appliances with wet hands or wipe the electrical appliances with a damp cloth.

Rules of conduct near power facilities

Power facilities are overhead and cable power lines, substations, transformer substations, distribution points.

Overhead power lines with voltages of 35, 110 kilovolts and above are responsible for the power supply of cities and towns. Overhead and cable power lines with a voltage of 6 and 10 kilovolts are responsible for power supply inside cities and towns, as well as rural settlements.Power lines with a voltage of 380 volts provide electricity to apartment buildings, and 220 volts – to individual apartments.

Substations and high-voltage power transmission lines are divided into voltage classes: 35 and 110 kilovolts and above, and transformer substations with a voltage of 6-10 kilovolts are just those transformer boxes.

Substations are designed to reduce the voltage in the alternating current network and for the distribution of electricity. Transformer substations are located in every settlement and, due to their ubiquity, pose a particular danger to the population!

All power facilities pose a real danger to life!

Remember the simple rules:

  1. Under no circumstances DO NOT touch or even come close to broken wires hanging or lying on the ground.An electric shock can be obtained even a few meters from the wire due to the step voltage. Therefore, let’s agree: consider any wire or electrical appliance energized! Even if two dozen people touched him before you. And suddenly, at the same time, when you took it in hand, someone a few meters away from you turned on the switch! If, nevertheless, a person has fallen into the zone of “step tension”, it is impossible to tear off the soles from the surface of the earth. You should move away from the wire in a “goose step” – the heel of the walking leg, without taking off from the ground, is placed on the toe of the other leg.Remember, when you see a broken wire lying on the ground, in no case do not approach it closer than 8 meters.

  2. LETHAL DANGER to climb on the supports of high-voltage power lines, play under them, make fires, break insulators on the supports, throw wire and other objects on the wires, launch kites under the wires.

  3. If you see a broken wire, open or damaged doors of transformer booths or electrical panels, DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING and inform adults immediately.

  4. In no case DO NOT open staircase electrical panels located at the entrances of houses, climb onto the roofs of houses and buildings where electrical wires pass nearby, enter transformer booths, switchboard and other electrical rooms, touch electrical equipment, wires with your hands.

  5. In the summer, while on a hike, or going fishing, DANGER to stop for rest near overhead power lines, or substations and fish under the wires of the power line.

Help for an electric shock victim

It must be remembered that a person affected by an electric shock can be saved, brought back to life, if it is correct and, most importantly, quickly to provide him with help.

Remember! You should not take measures to save the victim yourself. It is better followed by adults or energy specialists. Call them for help immediately!

A person who is well aware of the Rules for freeing a victim from electric shock and first aid can provide effective assistance to a victim of electric shock.

What actions should an adult take to provide assistance?

  • Call an ambulance
  • Assess the situation and, if possible, release the victim from the action of the electric current
  • Provide first aid before the arrival of the ambulance

Never touch the victim immediately. He may still be under the influence of an electric current. Touching an injured person can also be hit.It is necessary to turn off the power source (unscrew the plugs, turn off the switch). If this is not possible, it is necessary to move the current source away from yourself and from the victim with a dry, non-conductive object (branch, wooden stick).

If it is necessary to drag the victim away from the mains wire, it must be remembered that the human body through which the current passed conducts current in the same way as an electric wire. Therefore, you should not touch the exposed parts of the victim’s body with your bare hands, you can only touch dry parts of his clothes, but it is better to wear rubber gloves or wrap your hands in dry silk cloth.

After the cessation of the action of the electric current, it is necessary to pay attention to the presence of signs of life (respiration and pulse on large vessels). In the absence of signs of breathing and pulse, urgent resuscitation measures are needed: a closed heart massage and artificial ventilation (artificial respiration). Examine exposed areas of the victim’s body. Always look for two burns (where the electric current enters and exits). Apply a sterile or clean tissue to the burned areas.Do not use a blanket or towel for this purpose – the fibers from them can adhere to the burnt surface. To improve the functioning of the heart, blood flow to it should be increased. To do this, lay the victim so that his chest is slightly lower than the legs.

Anyone injured by electric shock should be hospitalized as soon as possible.

Electrical Safety Signs

To prevent accidental entry into electrical installations, and thereby prevent electric shock to people, there are special warning signs and posters.They are hung or applied to the supports of overhead power lines of any voltage, the doors of various electrical panels in which electrical equipment is located, on fences and fences enclosing electrical installations. The presence of such signs implies the prohibition of penetration by the population into electrical installations or the ascent to the support of power lines.

Signs warn a person of the danger of electric shock. Neglecting them, let alone taking them off and ripping them off, is unacceptable!

Dear guys!

Do not grieve your parents with your rash actions! Stop, warn your comrade against dangerous pranks near power facilities! By doing this you will save his life!

Upon detection of wire breakage, sparking, damage to supports, insulators, open or damaged doors of transformer substations or electrical panels, detection of torn signs and posters on electrical safety, in order to avoid accidents, you must immediately inform adults or call 112 .

Sometimes it seems that trouble can happen to anyone, but not to us. This is a misleading impression!

Be careful guys! Take care of your life and the lives of your friends!

Test for knowledge of key rules of electrical safety

  1. Where does man meet electricity?

  2. What are the main causes of electric shock to a person?

  3. Why is it dangerous to use electrical appliances without adult permission?

  4. Can I use a TV, kettle, vacuum cleaner if they are out of order?

  5. What should I do if the contacts spark in the outlet and smells like burnt?

  6. Why shouldn’t you touch the bare wire ends?

  7. How should you behave on the street in order not to get an electric shock?

  8. What should you pay attention to when choosing a place to play? And for fishing?

  9. What should you do if you see a broken wire on the street?

  10. How to provide first aid to an electric shock victim?

  11. What do the warning signs mean?

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First aid for electric shock: do’s and don’ts

Electric shock is one of the most insidious injuries. It can have both visible consequences (burns, pain, disturbances of the heart and respiratory rhythms), and completely not obvious.But no less threatening. And we must act quickly.

How to give first aid in case of electric shock

Unfortunately, if you get an electric shock, there is little you can do: hope that you will be thrown to the side or the shock will be short. If you are an observer, you have every chance of saving someone’s life. Proceed with paragraphs .

1. Try to separate the victim from the power source as quickly as possible


If the plug of the electrical appliance is not damaged (otherwise it is better not to touch it so as not to become a victim yourself), unplug it.Try cutting off the current through an external switch or fuse box.

If it is impossible to turn off the electricity, stand on a wooden chair or board, a stack of dry newspapers, a book, a rubber mat, glass – something that does not conduct electricity. Take another dielectric in your hands – a wooden or plastic mop handle, a wooden chair, a rubber mat rolled into a tube – and try to move the victim away from the voltage source.

In no case do not rush to save a person with your bare hands: you risk getting a deadly dose of stress.

Whatever you do, walk away if you feel tingling in your legs and lower body. In this case, it is better to move not in steps, but in jumps on one leg until the symptom disappears. Otherwise, you will suffer and will not be able to help either another or yourself.

2. Call an ambulance if necessary


Call an ambulance or local emergency number if the victim :

  • has visible burns;
  • Difficulty breathing
  • muscle cramps or pain are observed;
  • confusion or loss of consciousness is present;
  • There is a problem with a heart rhythm (arrhythmia) or the heart is not beating at all.

3. Lay and / or warm the person


If the victim is conscious, lay him down more comfortably – best on his back on a hard surface. Rest until the ambulance arrives or (if the electric shock seems minor) until the victim is better.

It is better not to move an unconscious person, because it is not known how serious the damage is.

Cover the victim with a blanket or blanket, put on warm clothes. The current can cause impaired circulation, so it is imperative that the person does not get hypothermic.

4. Cover burns


If the victim has burns, cover them with sterile gauze (if available) or a clean, smooth cloth. Of course, only if the person’s condition allows you to remove or cut clothes on burnt places.

Do not use blankets or towels as a bandage; their fibrous tissue can adhere to burns and later exacerbate skin damage.

5. Help to cope with shock


If signs of shock appear – vomiting, weakness, severe pallor – slightly raise your legs, placing a roller of things under your feet.

6. Give artificial respiration


If the victim is breathing poorly (infrequently and convulsively) or does not breathe at all, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation immediately.

Specialists of the Russian Emergencies Ministry recommend to kneel next to the victim and tilt his head back, placing one hand under the back of his head.

With the other hand, press slightly on his forehead so that the chin is in line with the neck. Put a piece of gauze or a handkerchief on your mouth, pinch the person’s nose with your index and thumb and begin to inhale air into his mouth with force.

The first 5-10 breaths should be quick (20-30 seconds), then the pace can be reduced to one breath every 5-6 seconds. Watch the victim’s chest: if it rises, you are doing the right thing.

7. Do chest compressions


If a person has no pulse and no heartbeat, in addition to artificial respiration, chest compressions are required.

Attention! Do it only if there is definitely no pulse. In the presence of palpitations, chest compressions are prohibited!

What to do if it seems that the electric shock was not dangerous

In any case, you need to consult a physician.Even in the absence of visible external damage and malaise, an electric shock can cause spasm of blood vessels or disrupt the work of internal organs – and if events develop badly, you will find out about this from somewhere in the intensive care unit.

The severity of the damage depends on many factors, including the following:

  • Source of the shock. This can be lightning, power lines, household appliances, a socket, an electric weapon.
  • Voltage.
  • Duration of contact with the impact source.
  • Current type. A variable is considered more dangerous than a permanent one, as it can cause muscle cramps and, as a result, respiratory arrest or heart failure.
  • Features of health, the presence of certain chronic diseases, in particular of the cardiovascular system.

It is clear that if you shake from touching a poorly grounded washing machine, the health consequences will be much less than if struck by lightning. But in any case, only a qualified doctor can evaluate them.

He will inquire in detail about what happened, check the medical record and diagnoses and, possibly, send for additional tests to exclude invisible to the eye, but no less dangerous internal injuries.

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First aid for electric shock

Continuing the series of articles on safety, we want to pay special attention to the topic of pre-hospital care for injuries caused by direct or alternating current.The life of a person may depend on how timely it will be provided and the quality of its implementation. From our article you will find out what actions you need to take in a critical situation. You will also get an idea of ​​how to provide first aid for electric shock.

Algorithm for first aid to the victim

We will not consider the factors of the effect of electric current on the human body, since this topic has been repeatedly raised in various publications on our website, so we will immediately move on to the main topic – providing first aid.There is a certain procedure for this process, the violation of which can be fatal for both the victim and the person providing assistance. Here is a brief description of each stage:

  1. The first thing to do is to free the person from contact with live elements. In this case, it is required to adhere to certain safety rules so as not to be under the influence of electric current. That is, turn off the electricity supplied to the installation from the voltage source.
  2. Promptly assess the condition of the victim, the presence of a pulse, check for respiratory arrest, etc.
  3. Determine the severity of the electrical injury, for example, the severity of skin burns.
  4. Assistance is provided, taking into account information from steps 2 and 3. For breathing problems, effective resuscitation will need to be performed prior to the arrival of health workers. First aid may include:
  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation;
  • treatment of wounds.As you know, burns can be caused by a current source ..
  1. Call an ambulance.

We propose to consider each of the above points in more detail, let’s start in the order of the given order.

Free the victim from contact with live parts

This must be done in order to stop the exposure of the victim and eliminate the likelihood of electric shock with the help of the victim. The figure below shows several examples of how to get rid of accidentally touching conductive parts.

How is assistance provided in the release of the victim from the effects of electric shock

Options for neutralizing the source of injury:

  1. Disconnect the electrical installation with which the person is in contact to prevent prolonged exposure to the voltage source. This will also prevent the rescuer from being electrocuted.
  2. Cut the wire. Important! For the tool used for this purpose, the handle must be made of a dielectric material.An example is a common ax with a wooden handle.
  3. Pull off the victim by the clothes, ensuring your own safety with rubber gloves. In extreme cases, if a person is dressed in dry clothes, it is allowed to pull him off by grasping the places of the robe that are not in contact with the body.
  4. If contact is formed with the broken wire of the overhead line, use an insulating rod to remove it. Alternatively, use a dry stick or other piece of wood of the appropriate length.

In this case, it is important to remember that when approaching the victim there is a high probability of being energized by the step. To neutralize it, use special dielectric shoes, or, being in the zone of probable damage, walk with a minimum amplitude, as shown below.

Incorrect and correct methods of movement when providing assistance under the influence of step voltage

Completing the description of this stage, please note that the methods given above in paragraphs “a”, “b” and “c” are applicable only for electrical installations with a voltage class not more than 1000 , 0 V.As for option “d”, when using special equipment (insulating rods, dielectric boots, rubber gloves, etc.), it is also suitable for high-voltage installations.

Assess the current state of the victim (consciousness, breathing, pulse)

Before providing assistance, it is important to quickly determine how much the victim has suffered. If you do not panic and know certain signs, then this procedure will take no more than a minute. Take into account that the time factor is of great importance for the assistance procedure [1].We list the symptoms for which it is allowed to make an assessment:

  1. Consciousness , defined visually.
  2. The color of the mucous membrane is easiest to identify by the lips. As the condition worsens, it changes from normal pink to pale or cyanotic.
  3. Breath type . To determine, it is enough to make a visual assessment according to the characteristic amplitude of chest movement, without spending precious time on exotic methods, in the form of applying a mirror to the respiratory tract.
  4. Heart rate check . In some cases, finding it on the wrist may be ineffective; it is easier to find it on the solar artery, as shown in the photo below.

Search for pulse on the solar artery

The pulse may have a regular or irregular rhythm, be bouncing, weakened, or not felt at all (that is, absent).

  1. Checking the reflex contraction of the pupil under the influence of light. If the pupils do not respond to light (do not narrow), this indicates the termination of the functioning of the central nervous system (hereinafter referred to as the central nervous system) due to the lack of blood supply to the brain, that is, a state of clinical death.

a) normal reaction to light; b) no reaction

Signs of biological death

In the presence of clear biological signs of death, it makes no sense to provide assistance. But before their manifestation, you need to consider a person as being in a state of clinical death and try to bring him back to life using the resuscitation technique. How to do this will be described in a separate chapter.

The first signs by which biological death can be ascertained appear after 15-20 minutes.These manifestations include:

  • Drying and opacity of the cornea of ​​the eyeball.
  • A peculiar reaction to lateral squeezing of the eyeballs, manifested in the form of a change in the shape of the pupil. It begins to resemble a cat’s eye.

In order not to traumatize readers, we will not present illustrations showing the initial signs of biological death.

Actions on the results of inspection

If a person is unconscious and there are problems with the functioning of the respiratory and circulatory systems and a neutral reaction to light, we can state the likelihood of clinical death.In this case, it is necessary to start resuscitation actions.

If the examination showed an irregular heart rhythm and the presence of weak breaths, it is necessary to try to normalize the condition using artificial respiration.

In those cases when after fainting or unconsciousness of the victim there was a return of consciousness, as well as the normalization of breathing and pulse, it is necessary to place the person in a horizontal position. It is advisable to organize a litter for this from scrap materials.Further, we provide maximum comfort conditions:

  • If clothing interferes with free breathing, unbutton it.
  • Worry about heat generation or cool air flow.
  • Provide peace of mind by asking others to leave the scene.

Before the arrival of medical workers, we closely monitor the condition of the victim.

In case of loss of consciousness, but the presence of pulse and respiration, the latter can be disturbed under the influence of a sunken tongue.The situation can be corrected by adhering to the methodology presented below.

How to help restore airway patency

If the victim does not have external signs of injury and strives to return to work, this should not be allowed, since it is highly likely that he may become worse in the future. Any decisions regarding the current condition of the victim of an electric shock should be made by medical professionals who are competent in this matter.

Provide the necessary first aid

It can be as follows:

  • Application of resuscitation techniques.
  • Determination of the nature of electrical injuries with subsequent treatment of wounds.

Learn more about each option.

1. Give artificial respiration.

The procedure for pulmonary resuscitation is as follows:

  1. It is necessary to tilt the person’s head so that the line of the chin and neck coincides.
  2. The nose or mouth of the injured person is covered with gauze, if not available, a clean handkerchief may be used.
  3. The assisting person takes a deep breath.
  4. Vigorous exhalation is made while simultaneously clamping the free airway (for example, the nose, if air is blown into the victim’s lungs through the mouth).
  5. Clear the way for passive exhalation.
  6. Repeat the procedure in 5-6 seconds.

Assisting with mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration

Approximately 9-12 artificial respirations should be performed within a minute. If necessary, the procedure can be combined with chest compressions.How this assistance procedure is carried out is described below.

2. Perform chest compressions

The technique of cardiac resuscitation in case of electric shock is shown in the figure.

Basic steps in chest compressions assistance

Designation of the main stages of the provision of resuscitation care:

  1. Place one palm so that it is approximately 3-4 cm above the xiphoid process. The second palm, which will be pushed, is located on top of the first.
  2. Raise your fingers and straighten your elbows. The process of pressing should not be carried out by muscle forces, but under the influence of the weight of the person providing assistance.
  3. If it is necessary to massage a child under one year old, then it is carried out with the index finger (for convenience, you can additionally use the middle finger). For children under 12 years old, massage is performed using one hand.
  4. The impact should be of such force that the chest (adult) is displaced towards the spine by about 4.0-5.0 cm.

Actions of cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be carried out until the work of the respiratory system is normalized and the appearance of a pulse is detected.

3. Determine the nature of the electrical injury

After providing effective resuscitation care, examine the person for thermal burns and other types of damage from the passage of current through body tissues. A complete list of the consequences of an industrial frequency shock or lightning strike is presented below.

List of possible injuries from exposure to current

4. Treat wounds

Treatment of wounds in the provision of first aid should be carried out if a person has received minor tissue damage. In severe injuries, without medical education experience, harm can be done. If he received minor tissue burns, it is enough to apply a dry bandage. After that, it is required to comfortably lay the person down before the ambulance arrives.

Moving a person who has received serious tissue damage is undesirable; this is done only if he is in the affected area of ​​current-carrying wires.

Call an ambulance

We remind you that to call an ambulance, it is not necessary to have money on the mobile phone account, the call to the number “102” is free of charge. Since the provision of first aid is greatly influenced by the time factor, it is advisable that someone else makes the call, and not the person directly providing assistance.

The sooner you call an ambulance, the more chances you have to save the life of a person injured by electric shock.

Useful video on the topic