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Electrical Burns

An electrical burn is a skin burn that results from contact with electricity. When this happens, electricity can travel through your body damaging tissues and organs. The level of injury to the body depends on the type of circuit (AC or CD), the level of voltage and amperage, the way in which the current entered the body, and how long the exposure was.

Caring for an electrical burn

  • Call or send someone to call 911 for emergency medical help whenever an electrical burn occurs. Serious electrical injuries may be life-threatening.

  • Check to see if the person is still in contact with the electrical current. If so, don't touch them until you turn off the source or the circuit breaker.

  • Unplug the appliance or device that has caused the injury or turn off the electrical current at the circuit breaker.

  • Never touch a live wire with your bare hands. If you have to lift a live wire from a person, use a dry stick, a rolled-up newspaper, thick clothing, or another sturdy, dry, nonmetallic object that won't conduct electricity.

  • If you can't turn off the power, try to remove the person from the electrical source. Don't use your bare hands. Insulate yourself with rubber or with a nonconductive item suggested above so the current doesn't pass to your body.

  • Check to see if the person is still breathing. Call or send someone to call 911 and start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately if the person isn't breathing.

  • Be aware that a person may go into "shock" after an electrical burn. Don't leave them alone.

  • Don't give the person anything to eat or drink.

  • Move the person as little as possible. Severe electric shock may have caused a spinal fracture.

  • Take the person to the ER or call 911 if they bite an electrical cord and get a small burn at the corner of their mouth. These burns can be very dangerous and are often much deeper than they look. These burns can severely bleed for hours or even days after the injury.

  • Any person who has received an electrical shock needs to be checked by a healthcare provider immediately. Electrical shocks can cause internal damage that can't be found without a thorough medical exam.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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