Getting an electric shock, even a small one, can adversely affect the human body. The severity of a shock depends on three main factors, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration: amperes, which measures the current that flows through your body; path of the current as it moves through your body; and duration of the current. Other factors come into play here, too, such as voltage, whether or not moisture is present, your heart cycle’s current phase and your overall health.
Just like there are many factors that affect the severity of the electrical current, there are a variety of effects on the human body. At best, you will feel a little bit of a tingle. At worst, you can experience severe internal and surface burns, cardiac arrest, respiratory paralysis and death, but these effects depend greatly on each person’s unique physiology, according to the University of Western Australia. Sometimes, a person who has been electrocuted suffers secondary injuries. For example, if someone is working on a ladder and experiences an electric shock, this could cause the person to fall to the ground, incurring even more injuries. With electric shock comes muscle contractions, loss of consciousness, joint dislocation, tissue death at entry and the exit points, edema, swelling of muscles and blood pressure drop, says HealthGuidance. When ventricular fibrillation occurs, which is the main cause of death in electrocution victims, the heart muscles contract erratically and no blood pumps through the body, thus starving the brain of oxygen. This is why a defibrillator is often used on the victim, as it can essentially “restart” the heart.
The terms “electric shock” and “electrocution” are often times used interchangeably; however, they each mean something different. An electric shock is a sudden violent response to electric current that flows through the body, while electrocution is defined as death caused by an electric shock, according to the National Institutes of Health. Primary electrical injury involves the damage done to the tissues when an electrical current or voltage passes directly through the body. When something is referred to as “high voltage,” this means it contains more than 600 volts basically enough to do severe damage to the human body.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, more than 30,000 accidents happen each year involving non-fatal shock. Approximately 1,000 people Americans die each year from electrocution, with many cases occurring on the job, says EMedicineHealth. Children are not immune to electrocution, but they tend to suffer from low voltage shocks that occur within the household, with appliance and extension cords causing about 63 percent of injuries and wall outlets causing about 15 percent of injuries.
Taking proper precautions around electricity, such as being careful around live wires and covering all wall outlets to keep curious hands out, can help reduce the risk of electric shock and electrocution. Princeton University advises inspecting all wiring of equipment, replacing damaged or frayed electrical cords right away. Keep water away from all appliances, like hair dryers, and instruct children on the dangers of electrocution. Stay away from high voltage fencing and always assume downed wires are live. Being diligent about electric safety can save your life or that of someone you love.
This article was contributed by Travis Guerrero, a health and nutrition expert who hopes to help you live a healthier life. He writes this on behalf of Smart PrePaid Electric, your number one choice when looking for a no-deposit electrical company. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!