Can bones conduct electricity
- What to do in the event of an electric shock? Turn off the power, if unconscious, lay stable on your side and, if necessary, reanimation, otherwise: calm down the affected person, cover burns with sterile covers, call an emergency doctor
- When to the doctor Every electrical accident should be assessed by a doctor and, if necessary, taken care of, for example because health consequences can occur with a delay of a few hours.
- Risk of electric shock: i.a. Burns of the skin (electricity marks), impaired consciousness, muscle cramps, cardiac arrhythmias, respiratory failure, death
- Never touch an injured person until the power has been switched off! This is especially true in the event of accidents on high-voltage lines.
- Take any electric shock seriously. Even hours afterwards, health problems such as cardiac arrhythmias can appear!
Electric shock: what to do
An electric shock can be fatal to children and adults alike - this also applies to the first aider. This is why it is important to know what proper first aid looks like in the event of an electric shock. The first steps in the event of a low voltage accident (e.g. at home) are:
- Call 911 or ask another first responder to do so.
- Before you provide first aid in the event of an electric shock, you should disconnect the power source as much as possible for your own safety: pull out the plug of the electrical device or unscrew the fuse.
- If you are unsure whether the power has actually been interrupted, use a broom, blanket or other non-conductive object to pull the person away from the power source to be on the safe side.
- Check whether the person concerned is responsive, i.e. conscious.
In the event of high-voltage accidents, always call the emergency services immediately and then wait for help - only the responsible power station can turn off the power here, and the rescue and care of the injured person should be left to specialists.
Further first aid in the event of an electric shock (low voltage) depends on whether the injured person is conscious or not:
The injured person is conscious:
- Calm him down.
- Cover any current brands on the affected person's skin in a sterile manner.
- Keep the person affected warm (e.g. with a blanket).
- Stay with him until the ambulance arrives.
The injured person is unconscious:
- Check the victim's breathing and pulse.
- If both are present, bring the person affected into the stable side position.
- If the person concerned is no longer breathing, start ventilation; if the pulse is missing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
- Continue the resuscitation (alternating with a second first aider if necessary) until the person concerned is breathing alone again or the emergency doctor arrives.
Electric shock: when to see a doctor?
It is obvious to everyone that medical help is required in the event of a serious electrical accident. But even in the event of a supposedly minor electrical accident, a doctor should always be consulted. It is difficult for a layperson to assess the actual extent of the injury. Especially since, for example, cardiac arrhythmias caused by an electric shock can occur several hours after the accident.
Tiny electric shocks caused by electrostatic discharge, for example when touching a door handle or a synthetic fiber sweater, are harmless. No doctor is needed here.
Electric shock: risks
An electric shock can come off lightly, cause more or less severe damage to the body or even be fatal. How severe the consequences are depends, among other things, on the physical condition of the person affected, on the strength of the current, voltage, duration of exposure to the current and the electrical resistance encountered by the current flow.
This resistance is different, for example, depending on the tissue. Bones, tendons and adipose tissue conduct electricity poorly, while more electricity can flow through muscles, nerve tissue and blood. With regard to the skin, moisture also plays a role: Damp or wet skin offers less resistance to electricity than dry skin. Therefore, an electrical accident in the bathroom or water is particularly dangerous. The type of clothing also influences the resistance to the flow of electricity (e.g. rubber soles on shoes increase the resistance to electricity).
The type of current also has an influence on the possible consequences of an electrical accident - direct current (e.g. car battery, lightning strike) is less dangerous for the body than alternating current (e.g. household electricity), because the change in polarity is more likely to trigger cardiac arrhythmias.
Overall, the most important health consequences and risks of an electric shock are as follows:
- Electricity marks (burns) on the skin areas where electricity enters and exits the body
- Disturbances in consciousness: drowsiness, dizziness, memory loss up to loss of consciousness or seizures
- Muscle spasms under power (so it can happen that the person concerned cannot let go of the electrical cable that is causing the problem)
- Respiratory arrest due to cramping of the respiratory muscles
- Cardiac arrhythmias (sometimes even hours after the electric shock) up to life-threatening ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest
Electric shock: check with a doctor
The doctor examines any burns the current may have caused on the patient's body. The person concerned is also examined for broken bones, dislocated joints (dislocations), injuries to the spinal cord and other organs. For example, bone fractures can be seen on X-rays. Cardiac activity can be checked and monitored using electrocardiography (EKG).
If necessary, blood and urine tests, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI or magnetic resonance imaging) can also be useful to investigate suspected organ damage.
The patient may need to stay in the hospital for a few hours for observation, for example if the EKG is abnormal, symptoms of heart problems (such as chest pain) occur, or a patient is pregnant.
Young children who have bitten or sucked on an electrical cord should be assessed by an orthodontist, oral surgeon, or surgeon (experienced with such accidents).
Electric shock: Treatment by the doctor
Treatment for an electric shock depends on the type and extent of the injury.
For example, skin burns are treated with incendiary ointments and sterile bandages. They may also have to be treated surgically. The doctor will straighten a dislocated joint and apply a plaster cast to a broken bone. If the injuries are painful, the doctor may give you pain relievers (analgesics).
Read more about the therapies
Read more about therapies that can help here:
Prevent electric shock
The most important tips to avoid electric shock are:
- Be careful when handling electrical devices and live cables - especially if there is also water involved (e.g. in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room).
- Do not take a telephone, hairdryer or radio with you into the bathtub.
- Turn off the power before installing new lamps.
- Secure sockets and keep cables out of reach when you have (small) children in the house.
- Make sure that electrical cables are / have been laid by specialists.
- Have electrical devices serviced regularly (including in the workplace) and check that they are properly connected so that neither you nor others can use them Electric shock to get.
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