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Electrical Injuries

Electrical injuries present unique challenges. Electrical injuries may be caused by man-made or natural sources. It is estimated that 1,000 people die annually from electrical injuries. Of this percentage, 10-percent die from lightening-related electrical injuries.

 

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Children account for 20-percent of all electrical injuries with numbers rising as the age of the child decreases. Electrical injuries are commonly caused by both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) sources. At home, electrical injuries are usually caused by AC devices such as household appliances, outlets, electrical and extension cords and tools and machinery.

In the workplace, injuries are also caused mostly by tools and machinery. Utility workers suffer the highest percentage of electrical injuries especially those who come in contact with high-voltage power lines. These power lines contain DC current, which usually cause a shorter, but more powerful burst of electrical current.

AC current is dangerous because it stimulates continuous muscle contractions and burns and often the victims cannot release themselves from the electrical source. Electrical injuries can be caused in four main ways:

1. Cardiac arrest due to electrical shock
2. Muscle, nerve, and tissue damage from the passage of the current
3. Thermal burns from the source of the shock
4. Blunt trauma injuries resulting from be hurled by high-voltage lines


When faced with a victim receiving an electrical injury, the U. S. National Institutes of Health recommends:
1. DO NOT touch the victim with your bare hands while the person is still in contact with the source of electricity.
2. DO NOT remove dead skin or break blisters if the victim has acquired burns.
3. DO NOT apply ice, butter, ointments, medications, fluffy cotton dressings, or adhesive bandages to a burn.
4. DO NOT touch the skin of someone who is being electrocuted.
5. DO NOT get within 20 feet of someone who is being electrocuted by high-voltage electrical current until the power is turned off.
6. DO NOT move a victim of electrical injury unless there is immediate danger.
What do you do?

  • If safe, shut off the power to the object causing the shock
  • If unsafe, then use a non-conducting object, such as a broom, chair, rug, or rubber doormat to push the victim away from the source
  • Call for medical help
  • Administer CPR as needed
  • Apply cool water to the burn area
  • If the victim is pale and shows signs of shock, then lay the patient down, with head slightly lower than the trunk of the body and elevate the feet. Place a warm blanket or coat over the person.
  • Stay close to the victim until medical help arrives

Electrical injuries in the home are often preventable. Many home injuries can be avoided by placing child safety plugs in all outlets and keeping electrical cords and appliances away from small children. Also, council your children on the dangers of electricity and lead by example in taking every possible precaution against injury yourself.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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