Electrical Shock

Electricians have seen and heard a lot of stories about the odd things electricity will do around metal, water, and the human body. One of the hazards we deal with in our industry is electric shock. (You might want to send the kids to bed before you read this one.)

Electrical Shock is an injury to the body from direct contact with a high voltage source. But, there are many different factors at play. The damage isn’t caused by the voltage, but the current involved, the duration of the shock, and body parts involved.

Adults can be in danger when they work on electrical systems and don’t turn the power off (or someone else unknowingly turns it back on), or if they happen to be standing in water. This type of accident is much more widespread than people think because the person working on the electrical systems components doesn't want to have to reset all the clocks, because they forget, or because they just don’t realize how dangerous electricity is. Not just homeowners, either: OSHA reports that 8% of all workplace fatalities involve electrocution.

Electrical shock injuries require immediate medical intervention, but a person who is still in contact with electricity should not be touched until the power is shut off.  Alternatively, if it’s possible, the source should be moved away from the victim with a piece of wood, plastic, or other nonmetal objects. If neither of these things can be done, a responder can call 911 and ask for the electricity to be shut off at the location, and then begin CPR if the person isn’t breathing

High voltage wire or lightning need to call 911 and don’t go near wires until power is shut off. Electric companies don’t insulate high voltage cables. You can learn why a bird doesn’t die here. 
Electrical shock can throw a person backward, which can result in neck or spinal injuries. Do not move the injured person. Try to keep them warm and still until help arrives. Apparent burns should be covered loosely with a bit of gauze, but never with a towel or paper since these will stick to a burn.


If someone experiences an electrical shock and doesn’t go into cardiac arrest immediately or sustain severe injuries, he will probably live. However, sadly enough, the most common cause of death, when people are hospitalized by electrical shock, is caused by infection of the burns.

Other injuries:

Brain injuries due to electrical shock can cause seizure disorders, depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.

The potential also exists for eye injuries and internal injuries, flash burns, deep tissue burns,

Here are some symptoms which need to be addressed by a medical professional:

  • cardiac arrest or irregular heartbeat
  • breathing difficulties or chest pain
  • Muscle pain or spasms/seizures
  • Loss of consciousness or confusion
  • severe burns (may not be immediately apparent)

The important thing to remember is that electrical burns can cause damage in unusual ways, since electricity doesn’t always follow a direct path, and can move in some odd directions once it hits the body. Any but the mildest shock should be treated by a professional, and a medical opinion should be a priority in the case of any electrical shock to a pregnant woman or child.

Many of our blogs, regardless of the topic, touch heavily on the issue of safety. Electricity has made life smooth and easy in so many ways; it’s easy to forget that it’s an incredibly powerful agent, for good or harm.  So, please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have an electrical issue. We are happy to help and have all the tools, equipment and expertise to do electrical work in your home that will keep your family safe for years to come.

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