Each year in the U.S., approximately 1,000 people die from electrical injuries. About 400 deaths are from high-voltage exposure, such as power lines. In addition, there are at least 30,000 non-fatal shock incidents annually.
Electricity is a vital part of our lives, but it can be extremely dangerous when someone is exposed to it, and an electrical accident occurs. Even an everyday home appliance can cause serious electrical injuries.
While electricity is a danger that most don’t think about, the effects of an electrical accident can cause minor to severe and fatal injuries that can have short- and long-term impacts on the victim and their family. Being prepared for what to do when someone is being electrocuted could save a life, but it’s very easy for another person to become injured when they intervene. Because of the risks, trying to help someone being electrocuted must be done safely.
Unfortunately, many electrical accidents are preventable. If the accident resulted from a company or individual’s negligence, seeking the help of an experienced electrical injury attorney is essential; they can ensure proper compensation for the effects of electric shock and hold those responsible for it accountable.
Ways to Help During an Electrical Accident
Electricity can cause anything from a minor shock to burns to the skin, nerve and brain damage, and damage to vital organs and muscles. Respiratory paralysis and cardiac arrest can occur from electrocution, and other injuries from falls or explosions could cause further harm. Even small voltages of electricity can seriously injure or kill someone.
The first step to help someone in an electrical accident is to turn off the power, if possible, and only if it’s safe to do so. Even if the victim is no longer being electrocuted, turning off the power could prevent others in the area from suffering electrical injuries.
If you can’t turn off the power, you can try disconnecting the victim from the electrical source – but not with your hands or anything with metal. The human body is an excellent conductor of electricity. Since an electrical current can pass from one person to another, it’s crucial that you don’t touch or pull away a person who’s still being electrocuted. Instead, a non-conducting item, such as a piece of wood or plastic, could be used to disconnect them from the source and even push the electrical danger away from the victim. This will help prevent further electric shock from occurring.
Another way to help someone being electrocuted is to call 911. In fact, sometimes it’s the only thing you can do because it’s too dangerous to intervene. Since many electrical injuries aren’t visible, and the victim of an electrical accident may have severe internal damage that could be fatal if not treated, getting medical care is vital.
There are extra considerations when a power line electrocutes someone. Stay a minimum of 20 feet away from downed power lines, even further if it’s jumping or sparking. While it can be difficult to sit back when someone is harmed in these situations, do not approach the victim or go near the power line until the electric utility company turns off the power.
Water also presents serious dangers when exposed to electricity. In cases that involve electrocution through water, like in a pool or on wet flooring, do not get in or step on water that’s still connected to a power source.
What to Do After Someone is Electrocuted
Once it’s safe, check to see if the electrical accident victim is breathing. If not, start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and if their heart isn’t beating, perform CPR. If they vomit or pass out, roll them onto their side, and if they lose consciousness or fall during the accident, do not move them.
Next, you can help by assessing their injuries and cognition. Check for burns, and ask the victim if they’re experiencing muscle contractions, numbness, or pain. These symptoms, as well as difficulty breathing, confusion, a racing heartbeat, and seizures, are all signs of electrical injuries that require the help of medical professionals. Knowing that electricity can cause injuries that can’t be seen but may have a lifelong impact, make sure to call 911 if they exhibit any of these signs or symptoms.
While waiting for an ambulance, keep the electrical accident victim warm. Cover them with a blanket, coat, or other items, but don’t place anything dirty or fibrous on burns. If available, you can apply a clean bandage or cloth to burns and lacerations, but nothing that will stick to the wounds.
Causes of Electrical Accidents
Electricity is all around us, and because of this, there are many ways someone could be electrocuted at home, on the job, on someone else’s property, or in public. The severity of electrical injuries depends on the voltage, the path it takes through the body, how long the body is connected to it, and the level of current.
Some of the causes of at-home electrical accidents are using damaged extension cords, damaged household wiring, and home appliances that come into contact with water. Misusing extension cords by not adhering to what they’re rated for and putting the wrong lightbulb wattage in a fixture can also lead to electrical injuries.
At work, there are several ways workers suffer electrical injuries in Louisiana. Some top workplace electrical hazards include damp conditions, improper use of equipment and cords, exposed electrical wires and parts, no ground-fault protection, and damaged insulation on electrical wires. Inadequate safety training, failure to meet safety regulations and negligent actions of other employees also cause and contribute to electrical injuries on the job.
Downed power lines or lines that aren’t properly maintained result in electrical injuries each year, many of which are fatal. The Louisiana Overhead Power Line Safety Act (LOPSA) safeguards people from being injured by power lines. Other electrical safety standards and regulations protect people at home and in the workplace. A business that fails to adhere to regulations when an electrical accident occurs could be held liable.
Electrical hazards can be found anywhere. Regardless of the cause, if an electrical accident occurs and you’re a witness to it, knowing how to help someone who’s being electrocuted could be the difference between life and death.
How an Electrical Accident Attorney Can Help
When exposed to an electrical current, what can happen to the body is extensive. When someone suffers an electrical injury, they may suffer immediate and lifelong health effects and even be killed. They may be unable to work or perform usual work duties, experience a decreased quality of life, require current and future medical treatment and care like ongoing physical therapy or surgeries, and suffer severe emotional struggles. All of this can be overwhelming for the family and victim of an electrical accident.
Electric shock injuries are often preventable and the result of a person or company’s negligence, and when they are, there are legal options for electrical accident victims in Louisiana. Whether an electrical injury happens at work, home, or on someone else’s property, a negligent company or individual may be held liable for their role in causing the electrical accident. A personal injury lawsuit against the person or business that contributed to or caused the accident can help get electrical injury victims the compensation they need and deserve.
Depending on who’s involved and where and how the electrical accident occurred, an electrical accident claim can help alleviate the burden and provide crucial financial stability. A wrongful death claim could greatly benefit the surviving family if the worst happened and a loved one died from electrical injuries.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in an electrical accident in Louisiana, you might be entitled to compensation for various damages, including lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and more. The experienced electrical injury attorneys at Herman, Herman & Katz have helped clients involved in electrical accidents get the compensation they deserve while holding negligent parties accountable. Contact us online for a free case review or call 844-943-7627.
Jed Cain is a partner with Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC. He has dedicated his career to representing injured folks and their families.