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Electrical Injuries

BY IN health & wellness On 26-01-2015

More Than 30,000 Non-Fatal Shock Accidents Occur Each Year

Each year, there is an estimated average of 60 electrocutions associated with consumer products. The three most common product categories associated with electrical injuries are small appliances, power tools, and lighting equipment.

Each day, nearly 7 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for electrical shock or burn injuries caused by tampering with a wall outlet.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, electrical injury has been responsible for an average of 320 deaths and over 4000 injuries that involved days away from work per annum in the United States.

Electrical injury can occur with any direct or indirect contact with any source of electricity. For example, curious children who stick a paperclip or a finger in an electrical socket, faulty household appliances, or exposed or downed power lines can also cause injury.

Injuries vary according to:
1. Intensity of the current
2. Type of current
3. Pathway of the current through the body
4. Duration of exposure to the current
5. Electrical resistance to the current

Current is measured in volts and amperes.

Typically, US household appliances run on 110-220V There are 2 types of currents: direct current and alternating current. DC or direct current is current which flows in one direction. For example, a battery. AC or alternating current is different. It changes direction 50-60 times per second.

A shock from a direct current tends to cause a single muscle contraction often strong enough to force people away from the current’s source whereas alternating current causes a continuing muscle contraction, often preventing people from releasing their grip on the current’s source. Low voltage shocks are more likely to cause involuntary muscle spasms and may cause burns.

In addition, electrical injuries may cause arrhythmias (irregular rhythms), burns, muscle pain, headaches, and nerve conduction and sensation issues. Furthermore, there is evidence which associates electrical injury with psychological deficits such as difficulties with attention, concentration, and memory.

How does electrical injury occur?
The most common pathway of current through the body is the hand. The second most common is the head. Current travelling through the hand can potentially damage the heart. Current travelling through the head can damage the brain.

As a general rule, the longer the exposure to the current, the worse the injury.

Resistance is defined as the impedance to the flow of electricity. Your skin protects your body in many ways. Generally, the thicker the tissue, the greater the resistance. The skin’s resistance is decreased when it is damaged by injury or when it is wet.

Electrocution is defined as the exposure to electricity which leads to death.

Signs and Symptoms include:
Tingling
Pain
Tetany
Palpitations
Chest Pains
Respiratory Arrest
Amnesia
Seizures
Altered Mental Status
Coma
Blistering
Burns
Wounds

Electricity has many purposes. We depend on it to power our appliances, recharge our cell phones and tablets, and light our homes. It is a necessity which we utilize on a daily basis. It is also important to remember it is dangerous and can harm us by direct and indirect contact. Electrical injuries may cause arrhythmias (irregular rhythm), burns, muscle pain, headaches, and nerve conduction and sensation issues. Furthermore, there is evidence which associates electrical injury with psychological deficits such as difficulties with attention, concentration, and memory.

If injured, it is important to seek care immediately for your injuries!


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