A low voltage electric shock is dangerous because it can cause electrocution and fatal injuries even though there are no visible signs of external injury. It transmits through tissues with low resistance such as the brain, heart, internal organs, blood vessels and the central nervous system.
This is very serious because electrical damage to the brain may result in a permanent seizure disorder, depression, anxiety, or other personality changes. Additionally, electrical shock can cause cardiac arrest, injuries to the heart, potentially fatal arrhythmia, paralysis or seizures.
What is a low voltage electric shock?
A low voltage electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with a source of low voltage electricity which directly or indirectly sends an electrical current passing through the person’s body, potentially causing both internal and external injuries.
What constitutes low voltage electric shock?
This type of shock is caused by exposure to an electric current of 500 volts or less. The voltage in a typical household environment is approximately 110 to 220 volts.
Is it dangerous?
Yes it is still dangerous. People can be electrocuted by coming into contact with 100-200 volts and there have been reports of injuries or death resulting from being shocked with as little as 42 volts.
Research has shown that electrical injuries from this type of jolt (which spreads out over a smaller area) can often result in the same amount of damage as high-voltage injuries (which spreads out over a larger area).
What affects the severity of a low voltage electric shock?
The factors that will affect the severity of an injury include:
- The amperage of the electrical current that’s involved
- The pathway that the electric current takes as it passes through a person’s body (traveling from the point at which it enters the person’s body to the point where it exits) and whether it damages the brain, the heart and the central nervous system
- The length of time that a victim was in contact with the electrical source
- A victim’s health and/or medical condition prior to the shock
- The type of electrical current that’s involved (e.g., direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC))
If you suffer any the following symptoms after a low voltage electric shock, it’s crucial that you seek immediate medical attention:
- Loss of consciousness
- Tingling (the feeling often described as “pins and needles”)
- Vision, hearing or speech problems
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
Diagnosis and tests
When you seek medical attention your doctor will ask how it happened and about your medical history. Then, your doctor will conduct a physical examination.
To determine the extent of and to diagnose your injury, your doctor may conduct any or all of the following tests:
- Electrocardiogram or ECG to check your heart
- Check your blood count
- Run blood and/or urine tests for the presence of muscle enzymes that are indicative of electric shock-related muscle injury
- CT scans
- X-rays to search for fractures or dislocations at or near the site of your exposure to the electrical current
Need help from an experienced electrocution lawyer?
If you or someone you love is a victim of serious personal injury or death caused by electricity, please call us toll free at (800) 548-0043 for a free consultation.
(Sources: “Neurological Complication After Low-Voltage Electric Injury: A Case Report,” ARM – Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine, April 2014; “Electrical Injuries,” Michael R. Zemaitis; Lisa A. Foris; Richard A. Lopez; Martin R. Huecker, published in StatPearls, last updated June 4, 2020)