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First Aid for Electrical Burns

Topic Overview

The first steps to take when a person is in contact with an electrical source are:

  • Have someone call 911 or other emergency services.
  • Do not touch the "electrified person" with your hands.
  • Unplug the appliance or turn off the main power switch.
  • Try to remove the person from the electrical source, if you cannot turn the power off. Do this only if you can do so safely by:
    • Standing on a dry surface, such as a rubber doormat or a pile of papers or books. Make sure you are not standing in or near water.
    • Using a dry wooden object, such as a broom handle, to push the person away from the electrical source. Do not use anything wet or made of metal.
  • Check to see if the person responds to touch or being talked to after separating him or her from the electrical source. Electrical burns can affect the electrical activity of the heart and cause heartbeat changes. If the person is not responding, start CPR. For more information, see the topic Dealing With Emergencies.

What should I do about electrical burns that aren't as serious?

  • Rinse the burns with water, and apply a bandage. There may be burns where the electrical current entered the body and where it left the body.
  • Call your doctor to discuss your burn injury. If you have a visible burn to the skin, an evaluation by your doctor is usually needed.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised December 27, 2012

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