Safety Tips Electrical safety First aid

How to treat electrical burns

Treating electrical burns

In 2012, exposure to electricity resulted in 156 work-related deaths and 1,730 cases with days away from work, according to the 2015 edition of the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts.” If a co-worker experiences an electrical burn, do you know what to do?

Source: National Safety Council's "First Aid, CPR & AED" course. Learn more about NSC first aid and CPR training – including online and classroom training for learners, and courses and materials for instructors. © 2015 National Safety Council

Rochester, MN-based Mayo Clinic recommends following these tips if you see someone come in contact with an electrical current:

  • Do not attempt to touch the person if he or she is still in contact with the electrical current.
  • If the electrical source is a high-voltage wire or lightning, call 911 immediately. Do not get close to any wires until you are certain the power is turned off. Stay at least 20 feet away from power lines.
  • Never move someone with an electrical injury unless the person is in imminent danger.

Be aware that electrical injuries can cause internal tissue damage that may not be readily apparent on the skin’s surface. Mayo Clinic recommends calling 911 if the victim experiences:

  • Serious burns
  • Disorientation
  • Breathing problems
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle contractions
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (also known as arrhythmias) or cardiac arrest

When waiting for medical help to arrive:

  • Shut off the source of electricity only if you can safely do so. If not, use a dry, non-conductive object (such as a piece of cardboard, plastic or wood) to move the electrical source away.
  • Begin performing CPR if the victim is unresponsive.
  • Do not let the person become chilled.
  • Cover burns with a sterile bandage or clean cloth. Refrain from applying a blanket or towel, as loose fibers can become stuck to burned skin.