Electric shock General Information DEFINITION–Injury caused by electricity passing through the body. BODY PARTS INVOLVED–Total body. SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED–Both sexes; all ages. SIGNS & SYMPTOMS– Depends on where the current enters the body and the kind of electrical current. Following are the most common: Burns at areas of contact. The burns are often deep. Heart damage, including cardiac arrest.
Severe muscle spasms that may cause fractures. Breathing paralysis. CAUSES–Contact with electricity from downed power lines, exposed appliance wires, faulty electrical equipment, lightning strikes or other electrical sources. RISK INCREASES WITH Standing on wet ground or under a tree during an electrical storm. Mishandling of electrical equipment.
Occupations that involve electrical machinery or lines. HOW TO PREVENT Inspect your house, especially the kitchen, bathroom and workshop, for hazards. Use grounded plugs wherever possible. Don’t use hair dryers or radios in the bathroom where they can fall into a tub or sink. Use safety plugs in empty electrical outlets to prevent children from inserting metal objects. Don’t try to repair electrical equipment unless you know how. Wear protective gloves and clothing for work that involves exposure to electricity. Replace worn cords or wiring at home or work.
Use ground fault electrical interrupters when possible. Go indoors during electrical storms. Lightning may strike several miles away from actual rainfall. What To Expect DIAGNOSTIC MEASURES—-Diagnosis is usually obvious from the circumstances. APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE Self-care after diagnosis (minor burns only). Emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the time of injury, if the victim is unconscious and not breathing.
Doctor’s treatment. Hospitalization for moderate to severe injuries. POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS Pneumonia. Permanent brain damage. Severe burns of the skin and underlying muscle. Death from heart damage. PROBABLE OUTCOME–Depends on the extent of injury.
Full recovery is likely if major brain or heart damage does not occur. How To Treat GENERAL MEASURES– If the victim is touching live electrical wires, shut off the power or remove the wires with a non-metal object before giving aid. Don’t electrocute yourself trying to help someone else. If the victim is unconscious and not breathing: Yell for help. Don’t leave the victim.
Call O (operator) or 911 (emergency) for an ambulance or medical help. Begin mouth-to-mouth breathing immediately. If there is no heartbeat, give external cardiac massage. Don’t stop cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until help arrives. If multiple persons are struck, give CPR first to victims who are not moving (those moving are likely to recover).
MEDICATION–Medicine usually is not necessary for electric shock. ACTIVITY–No restrictions, if the shock is mild. If the shock is severe, the victim may resume activities gradually as injuries heal. DIET–No special diet following electric shock. Call Your Doctor If You or someone around you receives an electric shock severe enough to cause injury. The following occurs during convalescence: Irregular heartbeat. Fever.
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