In our everyday lives, we now come across a variety of different sources of electricity. While many power sources are harmless, other power sources can be very dangerous for people. In the worst case, an electric shock can result in death. But what to do after an electric shock? We provide information on first aid in the event of electrocution.
What happens in the body during an electric shock?
A lot of energy flows through a human body, and electrical impulses are responsible for this. The human nervous system works by means of electrical signals. Among other things, this allows certain commands to be sent from our brain to our muscles. One of our most important muscles in the body, the heart, is also made to beat by certain electrical impulses. If electricity is produced and transmitted within the body, this is no problem for the body. But if an external source of electricity is added, it can be dangerous.
If electricity comes to the body from outside, electrical impulses are amplified in the body and trigger various symptoms. The muscles begin to cramp or even twitch. Even a few milliamperes can be enough to impair the functions of the human body. For example, if you accidentally touch a weak power source, you usually get a short electric shock. This causes the body to flinch briefly.
Various sources of electricity can cause an electric shock. We have collected the most common sources of electricity with an electric shock potential:
- Defective electrical appliances
- Unsecured power sources (e.g. broken and open power cables)
- Working on power sources without specialist knowledge
- High-voltage power lines
- Accidents with electrical appliances
- and much more…
When can an electric shock become dangerous?
When an electric shock can be dangerous for people also depends on the source of the current. It all depends on the type and strength of the power source. It is very dangerous when the current passes through the heart. If this is the case, it can be life-threatening for the person concerned. Generally, with an alternating current source (e.g. from a socket), about 20 to 50 milliamperes are already enough to damage the heart. This can lead to cardiac arrhythmia or even cardiac arrest.
For comparison: in a household socket with 230 volts, about 16,000 milliamperes (16 amperes) flow. So, it doesn’t take much for an electric shock to become life-threatening. Nevertheless, many power sources are fused and can thus protect against severe electric shocks.
The first muscle cramps can occur at around 16 milliamperes. This can lead, for example, to the inability to remove the hand from the source of danger. Here, the rule also applies that the longer you are exposed to a power source, the more dangerous it can become for your body. This means that even a muscle cramp on the body can be very dangerous. The muscles around the lungs can also cramp and cause the affected person to have problems breathing. In the worst case, the affected person could suffocate.
Regarding the strength of the power source, a basic distinction can be made between the low-voltage and high-voltage range. The low-voltage range refers to current sources of up to 1,000 volts. A high-voltage range refers to current sources of 1,000 volts or more. In the case of a low-voltage range, additional accidents to electrocution usually occur. For example, falling from a ladder after flinching due to an electric shock. High-voltage accidents, on the other hand, have much more severe consequences. For example, when people climb on trains and meet a high-voltage line. This can result in severe burns on the body or immediate death.
First aid in case of electric shock
In the event of an electrical accident, the priority is always to ensure your own safety. This means: if you are a first aider for victims of an electric accident, your own safety comes first!
If you are affected by an electric shock yourself, there is not much you can do in the first place. If you were able to get away from the source of electricity, then you should immediately look for a doctor or dial the emergency number.
If you give first aid to someone who has been electrocuted, you can follow these instructions:
- Be sure to dial 112 and describe the situation.
- Pay attention to your own safety!
In case of low-voltage accidents: Remove the fuse, switch off the appliance or pull out the mains plug.
In case of high-voltage accidents: keep a minimum distance of 20 m from the person affected. The area around the high voltage must first be secured before first aid measures can be initiated by medically trained personnel.
- Is the accident site secured and the affected person conscious? Then you can talk to the affected person and, if necessary, try to calm him down.
- Before touching the person, you should put on protective gloves.
- If there are open burns on the victim’s body, cover them carefully to prevent germs.
- The affected person is not conscious? Then place the affected person in the recovery position. Then keep checking the victim’s breathing and pulse.
- If there is no breathing and no pulse, carry out resuscitation measures resuscitation measures immediately.
In addition to first aid measures, you should also call for help. You can call for help very easily with the TarisApp emergency app, for example. With the TarisApp, you can not only dial the emergency call via app, but also request assistance from medically trained personnel in the vicinity. This can be particularly helpful in the event of an electrical accident, as many people are unsettled by the potential danger to themselves. Besides, it can take 15 minutes for the emergency services to arrive. And especially in the case of an electrical accident, every second counts. Learn more about the TarisApp right here.
- The First Aid ABC and ABCDE: What’s behind them?
- Electrical injury: How dangerous can an electrical accident be?
- First aid for burns: How you can help!
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