What’s the Proper Way to Treat an Electrical Injury?

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Understanding how to treat an electrical injury is crucial in a world where electricity powers almost everything around us. From minor shocks at home to more severe incidents in industrial settings, electrical injuries can occur unexpectedly and require immediate, knowledgeable response. These injuries, while not a daily occurrence, can be complex and dangerous, with outcomes ranging from minor discomfort to severe health complications. 

This guide delves into the essential steps and considerations in treating electrical injuries, providing a comprehensive approach to ensure safety and promote effective healing. 

By being prepared with the right knowledge on how to treat an electrical injury, you can make a significant difference in the outcome of such unforeseen events.

Immediate Response

  • Ensure Safety: First and foremost, ensure the environment is safe. Before approaching the victim, confirm that the source of electricity is turned off. It’s vital never to touch the person while they are still in contact with the electrical source.
  • Call for Help: In cases of severe injury, call emergency services without delay. Electrical injuries can have internal effects that are not immediately apparent, making professional medical intervention essential.
  • Check Responsiveness: Assess the person’s responsiveness. If they are unresponsive, check their breathing and pulse. Begin CPR if necessary and continue until medical help arrives, as electrical shocks can cause cardiac and respiratory arrest.

Assessing the Injury

  • Look for Entry and Exit Wounds: Electrical current can leave distinct burn marks at entry and exit points on the body. Carefully examine the person for these signs, being gentle to avoid causing further pain or damage.
  • Treat Burns: If burns are present, treat them by covering them with sterile gauze or a clean cloth. Avoid using ointments, creams, or ice on the burns, as these can exacerbate the injury.
  • Be Alert for Shock: Electrical injuries can lead to shock, a life-threatening condition. Symptoms include pale or clammy skin, rapid and shallow breathing, and a weak or rapid pulse. If these symptoms are present, lay the person down with their legs elevated to improve blood flow to the heart.

Ongoing Care

  • Monitor Vital Signs: Continuously monitor the person’s breathing and pulse. Any changes can be indicative of internal injuries and require immediate medical attention.
  • Avoid Moving the Victim Unnecessarily: Unless there is an immediate danger in the environment, avoid moving the person. Unnecessary movement could worsen their injuries, especially if there are fractures or spinal injuries.
  • Comfort and Reassure: Keep the person calm and comfortable. Providing reassurance can help manage their shock and anxiety, which is crucial in a traumatic situation.


  • Medical Evaluation: Always seek a medical evaluation following an electrical injury, even if the injury seems minor. Some effects, like cardiac irregularities or internal burns, may not be immediately apparent.
  • Follow-Up Care: Depending on the severity of the injury, follow-up care may be necessary. This can include wound treatment, pain management, and monitoring for any delayed effects, such as neurological symptoms.


Treating an electrical injury requires prompt, careful, and informed action. The priority is ensuring safety, followed by immediate medical attention. The effects of an electrical shock can be more severe than they initially appear, making proper assessment, treatment, and aftercare essential. Stay calm, act swiftly, and seek professional medical assistance to ensure the best possible outcome for the victim.