press enter to search

First aid for electric shocks in children

Hello Sehat
Hello Sehat

Hidup Sehat Hidup Bahagia

Jakarta | Mon, August 22, 2016 | 03:19 pm
First aid for electric shocks in children

Keep electrical cords away from toddlers who might chew on them, and teach children not to turn on lights or electrical appliances while standing on a wet floor. (Shutterstock/*)

Electrocution can occur because of contact with high-tension wires that have fallen or which a child has climbed up to. However, household currents can also cause severe electric shocks, especially if a child is standing in water at the time contact is made.

An electric shock usually stops the victim’s breathing and heartbeat. However, rapid resuscitation can lead to full recovery.

A person who has suffered an electric shock may have very little external evidence of injury or may have obvious severe burns. The person could even be in cardiac arrest. Burns are usually most severe at the points of contact with the electrical source and the ground. The hands, heels and head are common points of contact.

In addition to burns, other injuries are possible if the person has been thrown clear of the electrical source by forceful muscular contraction. Consideration should be given to the possibility of a spinal injury. The person may have internal injuries especially if he or she is experiencing any shortness of breath, chest pain, or abdominal pain.

Pain in a hand or foot or a deformity of a part of the body may indicate a possible broken bone resulting from the electric shock.

In children, the typical mouth injury from biting an electrical cord appears as a burn on the lip. The area has a red or dark, charred appearance.


What should I do?

First Aid

- Break contact. If your child is still in contact with a live wire, turn off the electricity or break contact with the wire. Be sure to use a nonconducting object (such as a wooden pole).

- Call an ambulance immediately

- Resuscitate

- Begin mouth-to-mouth breathing as soon as possible if breathing has stopped. Often external cardiac massage will also be needed. Take a CPR course in advance.

(Read also: What to know about myocarditis, a heart disease that attacks young people)


When should I seek medical care?

For a high-voltage shock, seek hospital treatment.

If a victim receives a high-voltage shock (500 volts or more), they should be evaluated in an emergency department and it may be prudent to get prehospital care. 

Following a low-voltage shock, call the doctor if the following apply:

- It has been more than five years since the victim’s last tetanus booster

- Burns are not healing well

- Burns are increasingly red or sore, or drainage is required

- The victim is pregnant

However, go to the emergency department following a low-voltage shock if the following concerns exist:

- Noticeable burns on the skin

- Any period of unconsciousness

- Any numbness, tingling, paralysis, vision, hearing, or speech problems

- The victim is more than 20 weeks' pregnant

- Any other worrisome symptoms


How can I avoid electric shocks?

- Cover all electrical outlets with plastic safety caps

- Unplug appliances, such as hair dryers and curling irons, when not in use

- Keep electrical cords away from toddlers who might chew on them (this type of incident could burn part of the lip or the end of the tongue).

- Teach children not to turn on lights or electrical appliances while standing on a wet floor or wet ground

- Teach children never to touch an electrical appliance, such as a hair dryer or radio, while in the bathtub (this can result in immediate electrocution if the appliance is plugged into the socket, even with the switch turned to "off").

- Teach children to avoid open water, tall trees, high ground or metal objects (e.g. shovels) during thunderstorms. Cars and houses are safe. (kes)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.