Electrical burns can have more serious side effects than other types of burns. For this reason, first aid for an electrical burn is different than for a burn from other causes.
What are the first steps to take for a significant electrical burn?
First, call 911. Until medical help arrives, turn off the electrical current if you can do so safely. If not, use something that is made of wood, cardboard, or plastic, that will not conduct electricity, and move the source of the electrical current away from the injured person and yourself.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT touch the person if she is still in contact with the electrical current. Instead either safely turn off the current, or call 911 If you cannot safely turn it off.
Do not go anywhere near high voltage wires. Stay at least 20 feet away from power lines that have not been turned off. If the power lines are still sparking or moving, stay even further away from them.
Even if the person is no longer in contact with the electrical current, you should not move a person who has been burned by electricity unless they are in immediate danger and you can move them without exposing yourself to danger.
If the person is not breathing or moving, initiate CPR until medical help arrives. Take care to cause no further injury to the person.
A person who has a significant electrical burn may have difficulty regulating his body temperature and might go into shock. If possible, lay the person down and keep him from getting cold by draping a clean jacket or blanket over him, taking care not to let the burn wounds come into direct contact with the fabric. If you have sterile gauze, cover the burn wound with it to prevent nonsterile items from sticking to the wound.
When help arrives, they will assess cardiac function and the patient’s ability to breathe. They will also evaluate for other trauma caused by the electrical injury.
What is a minor electrical burn?
A minor electrical burn does not have blisters. It is small and looks no worse than a sunburn. It goes no deeper than the outermost layers of the skin.
Note: Keep an eye on a minor electrical burn. It can quickly become significant.
What is a significant electrical burn?
An electrical burn that causes a wound that is in any way worse than a small, superficial (i.e., first-degree) burn can be significant. If any of the following apply, it is likely a significant electrical burn:
- Blistering (first-degree burns do not blister)
- The burn is deeper than the outermost layer of skin
- The burn is larger than a dime
- The burn looks worse than a sunburn
Electrical burns are different in some ways from other types of burns. With other types of burns, you inspect the burn wound itself to determine the severity of the injury. Since electrical current can travel through the body, causing damage all along its path, one must look out for other symptoms in addition to the burn wound itself.
A person with a significant electrical burn can experience a heart attack or seizure from the electrical jolt to the body. Even if the person does not experience these, he might have an irregular heart rhythm or loss of consciousness. Some early signs of serious side effects are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle spasms
If you witness any of these, call 911.
Should you go to a doctor after an electrical burn?
You should call 911 for any significant electrical burn. For a minor electrical burn, you can administer first aid at home, but because the damage inside the body can be worse than it looks from the outside, you should follow up with your doctor.
How is an electrical burn different from other types of burns?
Electrical burns can injure tissue inside the body, injuries you cannot see from just looking at the burn. The electrical current can damage wherever it travels throughout the body. The internal damage may be more serious than the external damage. For example, if the electricity entered the person’s right hand, traveled through the body and exited through the left foot, there could be serious tissue and organ damage along that entire path.
These burns can have significant physical and financial effects. If you have been injured by an electrical burn caused by another party’s negligence, contact us to get connected with a lawyer who can help you. Call our legal referral specialists at 844-549-8774 today.