If someone is burned by electricity, chemicals, or heat, the victim needs help right away. Minor burns can cause scarring and severe pain. Burns that penetrate beneath the surface of the skin can damage tissue, fat, and bones. Electrical burns can be especially tricky to diagnose or treat on the spot, since they may not leave marks at all. Electrical burns, even when they leave no visible injury, however, can damage tissues and even organs. If an electric jolt disturbs a victim’s heart rhythm cardiac arrest can be the result. Additionally, the jolt of electricity that can cause electrical burns can also throw a victim, causing spinal corn injuries, broken bones, brain injuries, and other damage. If you see that an electrical jolt or burn has taken place, you should:
1) Call 911 or the local emergency number. This is especially the case if the victim appears to be in distress, is confused, is having trouble breathing, has an irregular heartbeat, or has lost consciousness. Even if the victim appears to be fine, it is important to get medical help right away, since the electrical charge may have caused damage that is not immediately evident.
2) While waiting for medical help to arrive, evaluate the situation first. Is the person still in contact with the electrical source? Avoid touching the victim if this is the case, since he or she may pass the current to you. If the victim is conscious, assure him or her that help is on the way and ask about medical history and any pain the victim is feeling. That way, even if the victim loses consciousness before help can arrive, you can pass on important medical information – such as blood type, existing medical conditions, allergies, and the victim’s name – to the emergency medical personnel.
3) If possible, turn off the source of electricity. If you cannot do this, try to move the source of electricity away from both you and the victim. You can do this safely by using a non-conducting object that is made of cardboard, plastic or wood.
4) Check to see if the victim is breathing. If he or she is not, begin CPR.
5) Lay the victim down in a position where the victim’s head is slightly lower than the abdomen. Elevate the legs. This can help prevent shock.
6) If there are visible electrical burns on the skin and the victim is breathing, cover the burned skin areas with a clean bandage or clean cloth. Avoid anything with loose fibres – such as a blanket or towel – because these can stick to damaged skin.