We use electricity daily and its necessity cannot be overemphasized. Most of our home appliances run on electricity, but we pay little attention to its dangers. Do you remember the times you rushed out of the bathroom to pick a phone call or when you use your wet hands around exposed wires? What about improvising and hanging clothes on electrical wires with the assumption that these wires are de-energized. This is a wrong assumption, you should treat every wire like it is still energized, and this can lead to electric shock. In most cases, severe injuries.
What is an electric shock?
An electric shock occurs when you come in contact with a source of voltage that is high enough to cause current flow in the body. The shock happens when electrical energy flows through a portion of the body resulting in an injury, sometimes severe damage or death. The higher, stronger and longer the contact with the electrical current, the greater damage. The current travels from the surface of the victim’s skin, through the muscles, and into the organs to cause injuries like burns, cardiac or heart rhythm problems, seizures, breathing problems, and even broken bones.
Causes of electric shock
Electric shock can happen in the event of:
- Poorly Functioning appliances or equipment.
- Downed Power lines near water or machinery.
- Frayed cords, exposed wires or missing prongs.
- Plugging many cords into one outlet.
- Electrical appliances coming in contact with water.
- Incorrect or deteriorated household wiring.
- Lightning strikes.
Symptoms of an electric shock victim
When anyone close to you or around your house suffers electric shock, there are ways to administer the first aid or get the victim away from initial danger. To know if someone has suffered from an electric shock, the typical symptoms include:
- Difficulties in breathing or not breathing at all.
- A weak pulse or no pulse at all
- Burns on the skin surface.
- Sudden onset of cardiac arrest.
Note: Sometimes, victims of electric shock may appear to be unhurt, but should still be treated as a victim.
How to treat an electric shock victim
The first thing to do when you notice a victim of electric shock is to disconnect the power supply. Don’t touch the victim until you are sure the power supply is turned off. Be careful in wet areas such as bathrooms because water conducts electricity. It is safer to turn off the electricity supply to the building.
First aid for electrical shock include:
- Check for the victim’s pulse and breathing. Then administer CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation).
- If the victim’s breathing is steady and he/she is responsive, attend to the injuries. Cool the burns with cold running water for 20 minutes and cover with dressings that won’t stick (if available). A simple cling wrap (found in most kitchens) is very suitable to cover the burns as long as it is not applied tightly. Do not put ointments or oils on the burns. Avoid moving the victim unnecessarily in case there is a spinal injury. Only move him/her if there is a chance of further danger from the environment (such as falling objects).
- Talk calmly and reassuringly to the victim.
Safety Tips to reduce the risk of Electric Shock
By taking a few precautions you can reduce the risk of electric shock in your home, these precautions include:
- Hire a licensed and qualified electrician for all the wiring jobs.
- Don’t use extension leads or appliances if the cords are frayed or damaged.
- Keep electrical appliances away from wet areas.
- Don’t remove a plug from power point by pulling on the cord, pull the plug instead.
- Ensure your safety switches installed by an electrician.
- Buy portable power board with built-in safety switches.
- Insert safety plugs into power points not in use to stop children from inserting objects.