The term electric shock indicates an injury caused by lighting (natural electricity) or when electric currents are passing through the body (usually from artificial sources). The body is traversed by an electrical discharge and the clinical picture varies depending on the dynamics of the accident, the age of the affected or wounded, the voltage, the amount of current (amperage), the type of current (direct or alternating), the body’s resistance to the current, the current’s path through the body, the length of time the body remains in contact with the current’s source, and the duration of electrical exposure. The combination of these varying factors can lead to different effects on the body, ranging from a mild tingling, to that of more extreme cases in which it can lead to instantaneous death. Electric shock can affect the exterior of the body (i.e. the skin), due to the fact of the skins resistance to the electric current. A higher skin resistance to electric shock may lead to the skin being burned, but not allowing for the electric current to enter the body, this is also true for the opposite, where the skin is not resistant enough and allows the electric current to flow through the body (which may lead to internal burning of organs), but does not affect the skin. Thick and dry skin is more resistant to that of thin and wet skin. The nervous system, such as that of the brain, nerves and spinal cord, are very sensitive to electric shock, an electric injury may lead to neurological problems, which are the most common consequences of an electric shock injury. Electric shocks can paralyze the repertory system and disrupt heat rhythm, which can lead to instant death. Damage from electric shock is possible to the smaller vessels, as well as cataracts, kidney failure and destruction of muscle tissues within the body. Strong electric shocks are often accompanied by violent muscle spasms, which can break and dislocates bones. In infants, electric shock injuries occur most often when they put metal objects in their mouths.

What are the symptoms associated with electric shock?

An electric shock can cause different symptoms and damage to the internal organs, such as:

  • Visible burns on the skin.
  • Impaired muscle functions (abnormal contraction until stiffening).
  • Heart problems (cardiac arrest and ventricular fibrillation).
  • Brain problems (seizures, a loss of consciousness, and in very rare cases memory loss).

What to do in case of electric shock

You should first call for help. If possible proceed with care and remove the victim from the electric source (i.e. remove the electrical appliance from its electrical socket source). If not possible it is advisable to use a tool made of a material that is a poor conductor of electricity (a material which doesn’t allow easy transfer of electricity), such as wood, rubber, materials that are dry). You must also not attempt to touch the victim with bare hands, as you may also experience an electric shock. You should try to isolate the subject from the ground, creating a ‘mat’ of wood, rubber, newspapers, or anything that is non-conductive of electricity.

What not to do in case of electric shock

  • Do not touch the victim with your bare hands.
  • Do not intervene if not absolutely safe.
  • Do not bring any electric conductive materials near the victim (i.e. wet items, metals, rings, bracelets).


Disclaimer: The information in this article does not in any way replace the intervention or signs associated with this type of emergency, but rather only provides simple tips as how to keep the situation under control while waiting for a medical rescue team to arrive.