Electrical burns can be caused either by low or high voltage currents. High voltage currents can jump distances of up to 18 meters (known as “arcing“). In such instances do not approach the casualty; stay at least 25 meters away until the power source has been turned off and contact emergency services.
With all electrical burns, there may be visible wounds on the skin where the electric current has entered and shocked the body. Internal damage to the body may also have occurred and can range from an irregular heartbeat to cardiac arrest.
How to treat someone with electrical burns
If you discover someone that you suspect has had an electric shock, follow the 5 tips below to ensure not only the safety of yourself and those around you but also give the victim the best chance of surviving a situation that can easily cause death.
- Disconnect/switch off the power supply to the area. Approach the scene only if you are sure it is safe to do so.
- Treat any burns you find appropriately.
- Assess whether the patient is breathing, checking their airway to ensure they haven’t swallowed their tongue. Be prepared to perform CPR if necessary.
- If the patient is awake, reassure them. Calming the patient is a major factor whilst waiting for medical assistance.
- Request an ambulance. This could be the difference between life and death.