[Mayoclinic] First aid: electric shock


The danger from electric shock depends on the type of current, how high the voltage is, how the current passes through the body, the person’s overall health, and how quickly the person is treated.

Electric shock may cause burns or leave no marks on the skin. In either case, an electrical current passing through the body can cause internal damage, cardiac arrest, or other trauma. Under certain circumstances, even a small amount of electricity can be fatal.

When to contact your doctor

A person injured by exposure to electricity should seek medical attention.


Do not touch the injured person if he or she is still exposed to an electric current.

Call 911 or your local emergency number if the source of the burn is a high-voltage wire or lightning. Do not approach high voltage wires until the power is turned off. Overhead power lines are usually not insulated. Stay at least 20 feet (about 6 meters) away – further if the wire is jumping and sparking.

Do not move a person with an electrical injury unless the person is in immediate danger.

When is urgent care needed?

Call 911 or your local emergency number if the injured person experiences:

  • Severe burns
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
  • The heart stops beating
  • Muscle pain
  • Convulsion
  • Loss of consciousness

Take these actions immediately while waiting for medical help:

Turn off the power if possible. Otherwise, move the source away from you and the person using a dry, non-conductive object made of cardboard, plastic, or wood.

Start CPR if the person shows no signs of circulation, such as breathing, coughing, or movement.

Try to keep the injured person from getting cold.

Apply ice. Cover the burned areas with a sterile dressing, if available, or a clean cloth. Do not use blankets or towels as small fibers can stick to the burn.

Source: Electrical shock: First aid


  1. First aid for electric shock. American Institute for Preventive Medicine. http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/First_Aid_for_Electric_Shock/1490. Accessed Jan. 22, 2018.
  2. Electrical injuries. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/electrical-and-lightning-injuries/electrical-injuries. Accessed Jan. 22, 2018.
  3. AskMayoExpert. Electrical injury. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  4. Kermott, CA, et al., eds. Emergencies and urgent care. Print: Mayo Clinic Guide to Self-Care. 7th ed. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  5. Emergencies AZ: Electrical injury-shock. American College of Emergency Physicians. http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/Emergency-101/Emergencies-AZ/Electrical-Injury-Shock/. Accessed Jan. 22, 2018.
  6. Electrical injuries. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/burns. Accessed Jan. 22, 2018.

The article is edited and translated by ykhoa.org – please do not reup without permission!

Translated by: Kimluan

Editing: Bao Ngan

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