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First Aid for Electric Shock : Symptoms,Effects, Causes & How to prevent

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

The danger from an Electric Shock depends on the voltage, current type, the affected person's overall health, and how quickly the treatment is done. Hence, it is crucial to know what first aid can be given to reduce the risk of severe complications and possible death. However, the person should still immediately see a doctor. Read further to know in detail about first aid for Electric Shock




What is an Electric Shock?

An Electric Shock is a potentially serious injury that can take place in a scenario where an electric current goes via a human body. This can happen when a person comes in contact with a live source of electrical energy.  It is a physical reaction to electrical currents passing through the body.

Several sources of electricity can cause an Electric Shock, including power lines, lightning, electric machinery, electrical outlets, and household appliances. Besides the advent of Electric Shock, various other factors affect how severe an Electric Shock can be. These factors include:

  • Length of the time in contact with the source of current

  • Voltage

  • Path of electricity through the body

  • Type of current (alternating current is more harmful than direct current)

  • The overall health of the affected person

If you have been shocked and it is mild, you might not need emergency treatment, but you should still visit a doctor as soon as possible. Electric Shock may cause internal body damages that are often difficult to detect without a thorough medical exam. 

Effects of Electric Shock on the human body

Depending on the severity of the electric current, there are short-term and long-term effects of Electric Shock on the human body.  The short-term effects are the immediate effects on the body, which can be easily diagnosed on medical examination, and long-term effects stay for a longer time and are hard to diagnose or track over time.

The short-term effects include:

  • Burns

  • Seizures

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Headaches

  • Prickling or tingling sensations

Some people might experience unpleasant sensations but not have any significant physical damage, while some may experience severe pain indicating apparent tissue damage. Those people who do not experience any substantial injuries or cardiac abnormalities within 24 to 48 hours of Electric Shock are unlikely to have them.

Electric Shock can cause more severe outcomes such as:

Long-term effects include: A person affected by Electric Shock may have some long-term effects on his neurological, physiological, and physical health. Some people may also have serious internal damage, especially to the heart, muscles, or brain due to the electrical effects on these organs. Some of the long-term effects include:

  • Memory loss

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Loss of balance

  • Sciatica (nerve pain)

  • Panic attacks

  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)

  • Stiff joints

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle spasms

  • Night sweats

  • Concentration difficulties

  • Reduced attention span

It should be noted that regardless of how severe the Electric Shock was and whether it caused any physical injuries, you should seek medical help.

First Aid for an Electric Shock

Here are some quick first-aid pointers.

Call emergency number for help: Call the local emergency number immediately if you encounter an Electric Shock accident. Do not touch the person directly, as he may still be in contact with the electric current. Such incidents always require emergency medical attention, even if the injured person seems fine afterward.

Separate the injured person from the electric current source: Try to turn off the appliance's power by unplugging it or shut off the power through the circuit breaker, or fuse box. If it is impossible to turn off the power, try to separate the person from the current using a non-conductive object such as a plastic or wooden stick, broom, chair, or doormat while standing on something dry and non-conductive such as a wooden board, dry newspaper or cardboard. If the source of current is high-voltage, then the local power company must shut them off. If a power line or wire falls on a car, instruct the passengers to stay inside unless a fire or explosion threatens.

Do CPR, if required: If you can safely touch the injured person, do CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if the person does not have a pulse or is not breathing. To perform CPR, you should place one hand on top of the other in the middle of the chest. Then administer two inches-deep compressions by pushing down hard and fast using your body weight. The aim is to give 100 to 120 compressions in 60 seconds. Then tilt the person’s head back, lift his chin, pinch his nose closed and blow into his mouth to make his chest rise. Make sure the person’s mouth is clear before performing the rescue breaths. Perform two rescue breaths followed by 30 compressions. Repeat this until medical help arrives or the person starts breathing.

Check for other injuries: If the injured person is bleeding, then apply pressure and elevate the wound if the arm or leg is bleeding. Also, if the shock made the person fall, then he may have a fracture. Cover the burned areas with a clean cloth or bandages if the person has sustained burn injuries. 

Follow-up: After the person is taken to the hospital, the doctor will examine him for burns, dislocations, fractures, and other injuries. The doctor may recommend tests such as blood tests, urine tests, ECG (electrocardiogram), CT (computed tomography) scans, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) if required. If the person has serious injuries or burns, he will be admitted to the hospital or burn centre.

How to prevent Electric Shock

Some precautions can be taken to prevent Electric Shocks. These include:

  • Inspect electric cords regularly for fraying.

  • Avoid plugging too many devices into one outlet.

  • Replace all two-pronged outlets.

  • All electrical outlets near water sources should be of GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter).

  • Make sure all power tools are double installed or grounded.

Electric Shock injuries range from minor to severe, depending on the intensity of the electric current. Many accidents due to Electric Shock happen at home, so it is essential to regularly check household appliances for signs of damage. Also, people working closely with electrical systems should take particular care and follow safety regulations. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the frequently asked questions and their answers related to Electric Shock.


What should we avoid doing after an Electric Shock?

If you see a person affected by an Electric Shock, avoid touching the injured person if they are still in contact with an electrical current. Avoid going near high-voltage wires until the power is turned off. Call the local emergency number if the current source is a high-voltage wire or lightning. 

Can electricity stay in your body after an Electric Shock?

Electricity travels at the speed of light, so it can't stay in your body. Electricity does not stay in your body, but it passes through the body existing from any point. The passing electricity charges the electrons, which can cause internal damage to the victim. Generally, the electricity exits through your feet, but it can leave your body at any point.

What should be done immediately after an Electric Shock?

While waiting for medical help, you should turn off the source of electricity or use a dry, nonconducting object to move the source of electricity away from the injured person. If the injured person shows no signs of circulation, begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Try to keep the person warm and prevent them from becoming chilled. Apply bandage and cover burned areas with a clean cloth. 

Which organ first gets affected by an Electric Shock?

The nervous system, such as the nerves, brain, and spinal cord, are sensitive to Electric Shock and are the first ones to get affected if the Electric Shock is of high intensity. An Electric Shock can affect nerves causing pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or difficulty moving the limb, and can also cause neurological problems such as paralysis.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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