Electrical Burn

Electrical Burns may occur when electricity passes through the body. There may be surface damage along the point of contact, or at the points of entry and exit of the current. In addition, there may also be internal damage between the entry and exit points. The position and direction of wounds will alert you to the likely site and extent of hidden injury, and to the degree of shock that the casualty may suffer.

Burns may be caused by a lightning strike or by a low- or high-voltage electric current. Electric shock can cause cardiac arrest. If the casualty is unconscious, your priority, once the area is safe, is to open her airway and check her breathing.

You will need to treat the burns and shock, as well as arrange urgent removal to hospital.


  • Do not approach a victim of high-voltage electricity until you are officially told that the current has been switched off.
  • If the casualty is unconscious, open the airway and check her breathing.


There may be: 

  • Unconsciousness
  • Full-thickness burns, with swelling, scorching and charring 
  • Burns at points of entry and exit of electricity
  • Signs of shock


  1. Make sure that contact with the electrical source is broken before you touch the casualty.
  2. Flood the injury with cold water (at the entry and exit points if both are present) for at least 10 minutes or until pain is relieved. If water is not available, any cold, harmless liquid can be used.
  3. Gently remove any jewelry, watches, belts or constricting clothing from the injured area before it begins to swell. Do not touch the burn.
  4. When the burn is cooled, place a clean plastic bag over a burn on a foot or hand—tape the bag loosely in place (attach tape to the bag, not the skin). Or, cover it with kitchen film—be careful to lay the film along the length of the limb, not around it. If neither is available, cover the burn with a sterile dressing or a clean, non-fluffy pad, and bandage loosely. 
  5. Call ∗9999 for emergency help. Reassure the casualty and treat her for shock. Monitor and record vital signs—breathing, pulse and level of response—while waiting for help to arrive.
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