Electricity can harm individuals in two ways, through fire or electric shock. In order for electricity to flow there needs to be a complete circuit. Electric shock can happen when the body becomes part of this circuit whether it is i)a human completes the circuit by touching both wires ii)completing the circuit by touching one energised wire and a grounding source iii)or touching a metallic object that has become a conductor of electricity by being energised.
The Severity Of Electrical Shock
The severity of the injury from an electrical shock will depend upon a number of factors including
- How long contact is made to complete the circuit
- The type of current (AC/DC)
- The pathway the electricity takes through the body
Types of Injury
There are many different types of injury from electrical shock which will depend upon the factors above. These can range from damages to respiratory system, nervous system, kidney failure, cataracts or destruction of muscle tissue. There may also be broken bones due to violent muscle spasms.
Treating For Shock
If a person has suffered electrical shock the first thing you want to try to do is shut off the electrical source. If you are unable to do this you will need to make sure that you do not become part of the electrical current and try and push the victim away from the shock. This can be done by standing on a non-conductive surface such as paper, rubber or plastic. Never touch a person that has suffered electrical shock or you will become part of the circuit. Call for medical assistance and perform CPR as needed.
Tips To Preventing Electrical Shock
- Do not overload electrical circuits or plugs.
- When you are working on electrical equipment make sure the power is cut first. Do not rely on someone else to do this for you.
- Routinely check your electric appliance and wiring for frays, sign of wear or defects
- In case of an electrical fire use a fire extinguisher that is recommended for putting out electrical fires.
- Never use water to put out a fire as you increase the risk of electrical shock
- When working near electrical equipment that has high voltage use electrical safety matting such as switchboard matting. This is made out of a special insulating rubber that will protect the user from the risk of electrical shock. It is a good idea to make routinely check these mats for wear and tear or splitting of the mat which will render them ineffective.
Neil Maycock writes articles for Electrical Mats Direct