Rescuing a person who has experienced an electrical shock may save his life. It doesn’t look much but once a person experiences what textbooks call a ‘true electrical injury’—when electricity runs through his body to the ground—he may end up with internal bleeding from the damage to his blood vessels and immobility (not being able to move properly) from the damaged nerves in his limbs. If the current is big enough, say 600 to 1,000 volts, it may burn his clothes before the current reaches the ground.
What’s more, in the worst case scenario, the victim may lose an arm or leg (thanks to burns shock), experience heart problems, suffer fractures to his spine or suffer kidney failure. Some victims may even experience tingling sensations 2 years after the event. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?
Not everyone works as emergency medics but the following first aid tips may help prevent further injury to the victim himself.
- Safety first. Let’s imagine that a person in a construction site accidentally walks into a puddle in which a live wire is lying. Before a rescuer can move him away from the scene, always, always look out for anything that could pose a hazard. Can the victim be moved without injuring the rescuer himself? Are there loose rocks, damp boards or ropes lying around? There’s no use saving someone if it’s too dangerous. Remember not to touch the person while he’s still touching the wiring.
- Turn it off or pull the plug out. Have someone turn off the main electrical source in the area.
- Move away from the source. If the power cannot be turned off, use anything that doesn’t conduct electricity: a long, wooden pole or cardboard to pull or push the victim away from the current.
- Observe ABC’s (airway, breathing and circulation). Observe the victim. Is he breathing? Do you see his chest rise and fall? If there are burns, remove any jewelry and tight clothes. Cover the burns with a clean sheet of cloth.
- Position carefully. Be careful to keep the victim’s head and neck aligned or not to move the victim at all. Always assume that he has suffered a fracture until the medics arrive on scene. Never move the victim unless truly necessary. The head may be turned to the side to drain out accumulated saliva or the head may be placed lower than the body with legs placed on an elevated level. You may use a chair, a box, or a pile of wood.
Prevention though is still better than cure. Usually, the most vulnerable to electrical accidents are children of 3 to 4 years old as well as teenagers. Being curious and adventurous, little tikes that they are, instructions may not be enough. Here are more tips to keep your house electrical-injury proof:
- Always dry hands thoroughly.
- Plug the appliances off the outlet after and before use.
- Do not overload the outlet.
- Do not have little children play near appliances that are being used. Washing machines turned on may pose a threat.
- Put away extension cords when not in use.
- It may be a good idea to cover outlets with electrical tape or safety covers when not in use or in areas of the house where children often play.
A case of electrical shock is relatively unlikely to happen but it is by far one of the most dangerous injuries. If you can save a person from experiencing such, you may save his life.