Defective electrical appliances, faulty switches and frayed flexes can all cause electrical shock and other electricity-related injuries. According to the latest data from the Electrical Safety Branch, a total of 440 cases of electrocutions were recorded in Canada during previous year, of which, 170 were related to use of consumer products. Surprisingly, majority of electricity-related injuries were domestic of nature and involved household wiring, small appliances, and large appliances despite low-voltage current used in houses and workplaces.
Take note that even low-voltage domestic current can cause life-threatening
injuries and can even result in death. Considering the fatality of electricity-related injuries and its increased incidence in homes and workplaces, it is essential that you know how to manage electrical shocks.
Responding In Electrical Shock
What you do during the first few minutes after the incident can have huge effect in the survivability of the victim as well as your personal safety. There have been many cases wherein bystanders who are trying to help become casualties too because they do not know how to respond properly in such accident.
Ensure your safety
Before touching the victim, you have to ensure your personal safety. Do not do anything with the casualty unless you are sure that they are free from the source of electrical current. Casualties are considered electrical conductors as long as they are still in contact with the electricity. They continue to pose risk of electrocution to anyone who comes in contact them.
Safely cut-off electrical source
Locate and switch off the main power supply, if possible, otherwise unplug or disconnect the cable from the electrical outlet.
You can also move the victim away from the power source. Stand on a dry insulated material such as a book, plastic mat or wooden box. Using a broom or wooden pole, move the victim’s limb or body part away from the power source or move the source away from the victim.
If cutting off the electrical source is not possible, carefully loop a length of rope around the victim’s arms or ankles. Be sure not to touch or contact the victim while doing this. Once the loop is secured around the victim, pull him or her away from the source of electrical shock.
Conduct a primary survey
Once the contact between the source of electricity and the victim is cut, you can now assess for response, airway, breathing and pulse.
Activate emergency services
Call 911 or your local emergency services. If you have no access to telephone or mobile phone, ask for help from nearby bystanders. Record vital signs while waiting for help to arrive.
Treat electrical burns and any injuries
Flood the burns with copious amount of cold water, if available. Avoid touching the burned body parts. Gently remove watches, belts, jewellery and constricting clothing, especially around the neck area. Burns cause swelling quickly. Cover the burn site with a clean cloth and secure loosely. Monitor for signs of shock: increased breathing, slow pulse and sweating. Reassure the casualty.
To learn more about recognizing, managing and helping victims of electrical shocks take a workplace approved training program with one of our providers. Training locations are found throughout Canada including in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Toronto.
Stay Safe when working with Electricity