When an electric current with sufficient magnitude passes through the human body, it triggers a physiological response; this physiological response is what is called electric shock.
Electric shock may result in no injury at all or may result to severe damage or death. The minimum current that a human can feel is 1milli ampere (mA).
Thousands of people die every year because of electric shock. Hence, it is important that we do everything possible to prevent electric shock. This can be achieved by ensuring safe use and maintenance of all electrical equipment and accessories.
Some symptoms associated with electric shock are:
- Severe burns
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart rhythm problems (Arrhythmia)
- Cardiac arrest
- Muscle pain and contractions
- Loss of consciousness
What determines the severity of an electric shock?
- The magnitude of current that flows through the body: The greater the magnitude of current, the greater the severity of the shock.
- The electrical resistance of the human body: This explains the ability of the body to resist the follow of current. It is understood that the body under wet condition has very low resistance; hence, electric shock on a wet body is always more severe.
- The path that the current takes through the body: The path of the flow of current determines the severity of the shock. This is because, the current destroys any organ that is located in the direction of the flow of current.
- The duration of the shock: The duration of the shock is directly proportional to the damage it cause. The earlier the shock is terminated, the lesser the damage it cause.
Ways to prevent electric shock
- Ensure that all electrical appliances and accessories are in safe working condition.
- Ensure timely maintenance and repairs on all electrical appliances.
- Do not get involved or encourage unauthorized repairs of electrical appliance.
- Ensure adequate insulation and earthing of all electrical connections.
- Keep water away from electrical appliance and leads.
- Avoid running electrical leads on the flow, etc.
First aid measures for electric shock
- Turn off the source of electricity, if possible. If not, move the source away from you and the person, using a dry, non-conducting object made of cardboard, plastic or wood.
- Begin CPR if the person shows no signs of circulation, such as breathing, coughing or movement.
- Apply a bandage. Cover any burned areas with a sterile gauze bandage, if available, or a clean cloth. Don’t use a blanket or towel, because loose fibers can stick to the burns.
- Call for support immediately you notice the incident.
First aid measures for electric shock – WATCH