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22 August 2007

First aid for electric shock

Electric current passing through the body can cause breathing to stop or the heart to stop breathing. Follow these emergency first aid procedures.

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Electric current passing through the body can cause breathing to stop or the heart to stop breathing. The longer the person is in contact with the current, the less likely are the chances of survival. The source could be a defective household appliance, electrical wire or lightning. Internal body damage is not always obvious. Always seek medical help immediately.

Home treatment

  • Do not approach the person who has been electrocuted until you are certain the area is safe. First, break contact between the person and the current source. Best is to shut off the current at the main fuse box. Do not use the switch of the appliance. If this is not possible, use a wooden stick to separate the person from the appliance. Stand on a rubber mat, or stack of newspapers or another non-conducting material.
  • A victim who has been struck by lightning, poses no more danger to the rescuer.
  • Check the ABC’s: airway, breathing, circulation and start CPR if necessary. Check for shock.
  • Call an ambulance.
  • With high voltages, the person may have been thrown into the air and may have sustained back, head or neck injuries. Handle with care.
  • Cover any burnt area with a sterile gauze bandage or a clean cloth. Electrical burns are always worse than they seem. Get to a doctor.
 

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