If any part of the body comes into contact with a live wire or with a cable from which current is leaking then the person gets an electric shock. In houses the blowing out of faulty switches, fuses or faulty electrical connections can cause such injury. The injury may be mild or can be severe enough to cause death. Electric shock is produced only when an electric current passes through the human body, which is in contact with the earth. It passes even more quickly if the part is wet.
In wet conditions, even lower voltages may be dangerous. A very strong current passing through the legs may be much less dangerous than a weaker current passing through the chest especially so when it enters through the arms.
The Effects of Electric Shock
- There may be fatal stoppage of the heart.
- There may be sudden stoppage of breathing due to sudden paralysis of the muscles of breathing.
- There may be burns that are either superficial
or deep. They depend on the strength of the electric current causing the
Management of Electric Shock
Intelligent and prompt action is required. If the rescuer is not cautious he may also receive severe electric shock or even die along with the patient.
- If the patient is still in contact with the source of current switch off the source of current. This should be done with the rescuer standing on a dry piece of wooden board. Do not use a pair of scissors or knife to cut the wire. When the current is of low voltage then the rescuer should stand on an insulated material that is dry. (Insulated materials include rubber-soled shoes, wooden planks, or piles of newspapers.) Rubber gloves if available should be worn. Dry clothing like a coat or a folded newspaper may give some protection.
- When the current is of a very high voltage then the danger is greater even though the patient may not even be in contact with the wire as the current can pass through the gap causing an arc. The rescuer should keep as far away from the electric wires as possible. The patient should be dragged out using a non-conducting material like a wooden walking stick, dry bamboo pole, wooden plank or a dry rope.
- If the patient is not breathing properly or the heart has stopped beating, give artificial respiration and external cardiac massage.
- Treat for shock.
- Treat for burns.
- Transfer the patient to a hospital as soon as possible. Remember that even in cases of mild electrical injuries when the patient apparently recovers, he must be examined by a doctor as the effects are sometimes felt only after a while.