ELECTRICAL SAFETY RESOURCE CENTER

SHOCKING ELECTROCUTION STATISTICS


Electricity is an incredible gift. It powers our homes, computers, phones, and more. However, electricity can also constitute a very dangerous hazard. An average of 51,000 electrical home fires occur each year, taking almost 500 lives and injuring another 1,400. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 400 Americans die as a result of electrocution each year. In addition, approximately 300 people are killed annually by electrocution while on the job. There are a few precautions you should take to prevent an electrical shock injury from happening to you.

  • Turn off light switches before changing out dead lightbulbs.
  • Keep cords untangled and away from heaters.
  • Avoid electronic use if you're wet or near water.
  • Place drinks away from game consoles and other electronics.
  • Do not swim during a thunderstorm.
  • Stay at least 35 feet away from downed power lines.
  • Never climb utility poles or the trees around them!
  • Stay away from transformers.
  • Avoid flying anything near a powerline (kite, drone, etc.).
  • Do not overload sockets with plugs.

TREATING SHOCK VICTIMS

Indoors

If you're indoors and witness a person come into contact with low-voltage electricity, do not touch that person under any circumstances! Attempt to switch the power off, if possible. If you can't shut the power off, you can attempt to separate the person from the current without touching them yourself. However, it's important to remember that metal conducts electricity and a metal object should never be used. Instead, use a non-conductive material like dry wood, rope, or a broom handle to separate and move the person away from the current.

Outdoors

If the person has come into contact with high-voltage, outdoor wires, you should call 911 first followed by the power company as soon as possible. Do not attempt to touch the person or free them from wires.

How do you treat victims of electrical shock after they've been separated from the electrical source?

  1. Check for breathing and a heartbeat. If the victim is not breathing, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If the person's heart has stopped beating, you'll need someone trained to administer CPR to do so.
  2. Next, you'll want to treat the victim for shock. Keep them lying down. If the victim is unconscious, lie them down on their side to allow drainage of fluid. Make sure the person is also covered to preserve body heat, but avoid placing anything over the burn areas, as the fiber could stick to the burns.
  3. If you believe the person has injured their spine or neck, do not move them.
  4. Treat electrical burns by immersing them in cold water. Do not apply grease or oil. If the burns are severe, cut away any loose clothing and cover the burn area with a bandage or piece of clean cloth.
annual electrocution deaths
house

HOME SAFETY CHECKLIST


Outlets

Line Cords

Extension Cords

Plugs

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

Light Bulbs

Circuit Breakers/Fuses

Appliances

Electronics

Space Heaters

Outdoor Safety

ADDITIONAL ELECTRICAL SAFETY RESOURCES


Frequently Asked Questions

Answers To Some Of The Most Common Electrical Safety Questions


  • What is electrocution?

    Electrocution is an electrical injury that results in death. The severity of a shock largely depends on the amount of current. Small currents (70 mA - 700 mA) can cause potentially lethal fibrillation in the heart, which can be reversed using a defibrillator if help arrives in time. Larger currents (> 1A) will lead to permanent burns and/or cellular damage. Other factors that determine severity include the amount of voltage, the pathway of electricity through the body, the duration of contact with the current, skin resistance, the type of circuit, and the type of current (AC or DC).

  • How does electrocution occur?

    There are several common reasons electrocutions occur, which vary by environment.
    At Work: Utility workers face the greatest risk of electric shock, but electrocution can occur in any workplace. Common causes include unsafe working conditions and malfunctioning or defective machinery. Also, contact between cranes or handheld tools and powerlines are a common construction hazard.
    At Home: Electrocutions at home commonly occur as a result of malfunctioning appliances, power tools, or medical devices. Faulty installations or repairs can also lead to electrocutions, as well as, defective children's products.
    Outside: Electrocutions can occur anywhere. Outside of the home, downed or exposed power lines create major fatal shock hazards. Also, faulty swimming pool pumps or lights pose an especially dangerous risk of harm.

  • What are the most common causes of electrocution?

    Common causes of electrocution include:

    • Accidental contact with exposed electrical sources.
    • Contact with a powerline or electrical arc flash.
    • Faulty electrical wiring.
    • Contact with metal or other conductive material exposed to electrical current. For instance, a metal ladder which comes into contact with an exposed wire.
    • Lightning from thunderstorms.
    • Accidental contact with a downed power line.
    • Shock from faulty electrical products such as hair dryers and toasters.

  • What are the most common electrical shock injuries?

    Common injuries related to electrical shock include:

    • Severe burns
    • Cardiac arrest
    • Brain and other nerve damage
    • Memory loss
    • Numbness or tingling
    • Permanent heart damage
    • Hearing loss
    • Seizures
    • Respiratory failure
    • Spine injury
    • Unconsciousness
    • Headaches
    • Deformity at point of contact
    • Cataracts
    • Loss of kidney function
    • Cardiac arrest
    • Secondary injuries from electric shock induced falls

  • Is there treatment for an electrocution injury?

    Victims of electric shock should seek and receive medical attention as soon as possible. Treatment for electric shock injuries vary depending on the injury. Minor burns can be treated with topical antibiotic ointment and dressings. More severe burns may require surgery or even skin grafting. Surgery may be required to remove damaged muscle for severe burns on the hands, legs, or arms. Any internal injuries will require observation, likely followed by surgery. Sometimes amputations of appendages or limbs become necessary to save lives.

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