The severity of electric injuries can vary widely, from an unpleasant tingling sensation caused by the low-intensity current to thermal burns, cardiopulmonary arrest, and death.
Thermal burns may result from burning clothing that is in contact with the skin or from an electric current traversing a portion of the body.
When current traverses the body, thermal burns may be present at the entry and exit points and along its internal pathway.
Cardiopulmonary arrest is the primary cause of immediate death from electrocution.
Cardiac arrhythmias, including ventricular fibrillation, ventricular asystole, and ventricular tachycardia that progresses to ventricular fibrillation, may result from exposure to low- or high-voltage current.
A respiratory arrest may result from electric injury to the respiratory center in the brain or from tetanic contractions or paralysis of respiratory muscles.
What to Do During an Electrocution
Do not place yourself in danger by touching an electrocuted victim while the power is on.
Turn off the power at its source; at home, the switch is usually near the fuse box.
In case of high-voltage electrocutions caused by fallen power lines, immediately notify the appropriate authorities.
All materials conduct electricity if the voltage is high enough, so do not enter the area around the victim or try to remove wires or other materials with any object, including a wooden one, until the power has been turned off by knowledgeable personnel.
Once the power is off, assess the victim, who may need CPR, defibrillation, and treatment for shock and thermal burns.
All victims of electric shock require medical care because the extent of injury may not be apparent.