Electric shock

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Electric shock occurs if an individual is exposed to a source of electricity. When contact occurs, electrical energy flows through a part of the body, triggering a shock.

What are the indications of an electric shock?

An individual who sustained an electric shock might have minor external injury or have extensive burns. Some might end up with cardiac arrest after an electric shock or struck by lightning.

Electric shock
An individual who sustained an electric shock might have minor external injury or have extensive burns.
  • Burns are quite significant at the point of contact with the source of electricity and the ground. The heels, hands and the head are usual contact points.
  • Other injuries are also possible if the individual was thrusted away from the electrical source due to forceful muscle contraction. Take into consideration the possibility of spinal injury. There might be internal injuries particularly if he/she experiences chest pain, shortness of breath or abdominal pain.
  • Pain in the foot or hand or evident deformity of a body part can indicate a possible fracture due to an electric shock that causes violent muscle contraction.
  • Among children, the usual electrical burn on the mouth after biting on an electric cord appears as a burn on the lip that has a dark or reddened, burnt appearance.
  • Entry and exit marks should be checked to determine the extent of damage.
  • Cardiac arrest can occur in some cases.

When to seek medical attention

If an individual endured an electric shock from a high-voltage source, call for emergency assistance right away. If you are uncertain on the voltage that individual was exposed to, seek medical care.

After an electric shock is from a low-voltage source, get in touch with a doctor or bring the individual to the emergency department if the following are present:

  • If it has been more than 5 years since the individual received a tetanus booster shot
  • Burns that do not heal properly
  • Any evident burn on the skin
  • A burn that increases in soreness, redness or there is drainage
  • Any electric shock if a woman if more than 20 weeks pregnant
  • Any tingling, numbness, paralysis or issues with hearing, vision or speech
  • Individual loses consciousness
  • If there are other troublesome signs

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on electric shock is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage sudden medical emergencies including electric shock, register for a first aid and CPR course with Mississauga First Aid.

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