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Quick, Emergency Treatment for Electrical Shock


Electrical shock occurs when the body comes into direct contact with an electrical current. The voltage, type of current, and the length of time you are in contact with the current will determine the severity of the shock.

Electrical shock can cause:

Medical evaluation is recommended for anyone who has sustained an electrical shock. In severe cases, call 9-1-1.

At Dignity Health, our emergency room experts are trained to provide you with unparalleled, personal care for electrical shock in the Bay Area:

What Causes Electrical Shock?

There are several causes of electrical shock, including:

  • Arching from high-voltage power lines
  • Contact with exposed wiring
  • Contact with faulty wiring or appliances
  • Inserting something into or touching an outlet
  • Lightning

Electrical Shock Symptoms

As electrical energy enters the body, it becomes thermal energy, which can cause skin burns ranging from mild to severe. While skin burns are the most common symptom of electrical shock, not all electrical shocks cause external damage. 

Internal signs and symptoms of electrical shock can include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Irregular heartbeats, heart attack, or cardiac arrest
  • Irritability, memory problems, or personality changes
  • Joint fractures and dislocations
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, or paralysis
  • Seizures

Because there is high potential for serious internal injury, always seek medical care for electrical shock.

Treatment of Electrical Shock at Dignity Health

The severity of the injury will determine the treatment plan. If the person is still in contact with the source of electricity, do not touch them. If the source is an appliance, turning it off does not necessarily stop the flow of electricity. It is necessary to unplug it or turn off the circuit breaker supplying the source. Use rubber or wood to push the person away from the source if you can’t turn the current off. 

Call 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance and start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or first aid for shock if necessary.

If the injured person is near live high-voltage power lines, do not attempt to rescue them yourself. Stay at least 20 feet away and call 9-1-1

At Dignity Health, we know how scary an electrical shock can be. We are here to help you get the personalized emergency services you need.

Dignity Health provides complete, comprehensive emergency care for electrical shock in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.