When a person’s body is energized, the degree of harm has a broad range. Depending on the voltage, the length of time the electricity is running through the body, and a host of other factors involving the charge’s path, an electrical shock can cause any number of progressive symptoms and injuries: uncomfortable tingling sensation, difficulty breathing, confusion, loss of consciousness, severe burns, and even cardiac arrest, according to the Mayo Clinic.
However, burns are the most common injury from electric shock, OSHA states. If your body comes in contact with live electricity, you can receive an electrical burn, an arc burn, a thermal contact burn or any combination of them.
OSHA states that electrical burns are among the most serious burns and require immediate medical attention. These types of burns occur when high voltage passes through bones, organs, and tissue. This can cause severe tissue damage and even death.
The seriousness of an electrical injury depends on several factors. Typically, the higher the voltage, the higher the risk of injury. However, in addition to the length of the exposure and the path the electricity takes when it enters the body, the effectiveness of personal protective safety gear, such as gloves and shoes, can have an impact on the severity of the injury as well.
If you or someone you know suffers from an electric shock, depending on the severity, the Mayo Clinic suggests a few key initial steps, in addition to calling 911:
- Turn off the energy source, if possible;
- Don’t touch the person if there’s a suspicion they’re still charged; and
- Even if the victim isn’t energized anymore, don’t move them.