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What happens when you get electrocuted?

Electrocution, also known as electric shock, is an ever-present threat that occurs when a person comes into contact with an electrical energy source.

Electrocution may cause no injury, or a minor injury such as a burn. In severe cases, electrocution can lead to death.

Many variables determine what happens to the body in the event of an electric shock.

What happens?

Electric shock occurs when a person touches enough electricity to maintain a current.

Voltage less than 500 volts does not usually cause significant injury to adults. Children, on the other hand, are prone to shock by voltages as low as 110 volts.

A lower voltage electric shock can cause burns on the skin. Shocks of a voltage higher than 500 volts can cause internal burns, which can result in organ failure if left untreated.

According to the experts at House Call Doctor, repeated lower voltage shocks can interfere with the nervous system, and especially the function of the heart and lungs.

If an electric current passes through the chest, it may result in ventricular fibrillation, which means the heart muscle cells start moving independently of each other. Higher voltages can stop the heart muscles from moving altogether.

A person who is electrocuted may collapse, suffer from severe muscle contractions resulting in dislocated joints or fractured bones, suffer from lung, heart, or kidney failure, or suffer from tissue death at the entry and exit points of the current.

How should I treat electrocution?

If you witness a severe electrocution, call for an ambulance immediately.

Switch off the power source if possible, or use a dry wooden broom handle or other non-conductive material to move the patient away from the electrical supply without touching them.

If you have suffered from a mild electric shock, hold any burnt area under cool running water for 20 minutes then cover with cling wrap. Seek medical advice from your GP as soon as possible.

Have you ever been electrocuted?

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