Friday, August 07, 2009

First Aid for Electrocution Victims

Hopefully I'll never encounter an electrocution victim (much less become one) but just in case, I thought I'd check into electrocution first aid.

I like the suggestions at UMC:

Electrical shocks can stop a person's breathing or heart, and also cause burns.

If the victim is still in contact with the electricity source, be extremely careful that you don't become the next casualty. Switch off the current if you can. If this is not possible, push the person away from the electricity source using some form of insulated or non-conducting lever (a wooden chair, a broom handle). Remember that water is an extremely good conductor, so beware of wet hands, wet floors, and anything damp.

High-voltage electricity - the kind carried by power lines or railway cables - is usually instantaneously fatal. Never go near a person suffering this type of electrocution; high voltage electricity can 'arc' several meters through the air.

As soon as you have switched off the electricity or separated the victim from the faulty appliance, check for breathing and pulse, and give artificial respiration or cardiac resuscitation as necessary, place in the recovery position, and dial 911.

First Aid for Electric Shock Victims

  • Don't touch them!
  • Unplug the appliance or turn off the power at the control panel.
  • If you can't turn off the power, use a piece of wood, like a broom handle, dry rope or dry clothing, to separate the victim from the power source.
  • Do not try to move a victim touching a high voltage wire. Call for emergency help.
  • Keep the victim lying down. Unconscious victims should be placed on their side to allow drainage of fluids. Do not move the victim if there is a suspicion of neck or spine injuries unless absolutely necessary.
  • If the victim is not breathing, apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If the victim has no pulse, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Then cover the victim with a blanket to maintain body heat, keep the victim's head low and get medical attention.

First Aid for Electrical Burn Victims

Electrical burns vary in severity depending upon: (1) how long the body is in contact with the electric current; (2) the strength of the current; (3) the type of current; and (4) the direction the current takes though the body. Often these burns are deep. There may be more than one area burned. One area may be where the current entered the body and another may be where it left. Electrical burn wounds may look minor on the outside, but could be severe on the inside.

If a person has received an electrical burn, check for shock and follow the steps outlined above. If the person is conscious and there are no signs of shock (such as being cold, clammy, pale and having a rapid pulse), begin treating the burned area. Do not apply grease or oil to the burn. Cover the burn with a dry, sterile dressing, but do not cool the burn. Keep the victim from getting chilled. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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