It’s very important for your customers to know how to treat electric shocks. Electrical hazards cause nearly 4,000 injuries and more than 300 deaths in the U.S. workplace each year. Because electric shocks are so common, familiarity with appropriate treatment is vital.
You know this information, but by reviewing it with your customers, you certify your authority, the quality of your work, and emphasize the importance of taking care around electricity. Following are some of the key talking points you can cover with your customers.
Sources of Shock
Low voltage electricity – 500 watts or less – typically won’t cause severe injury. If a person is exposed to greater intensities, they may actually become a conductor in an electric circuit. This will cause significant tissue damage.
Household appliances, electrical cords, and extension cords are frequent culprits in the case of electrical shocks. Outlets are responsible for 15% of injuries and are inordinately responsible for electrical shocks to children.
Here are some tips for preventing electrical shock:
- Make sure cords are correctly rated for the equipment in use
- Limit the use of extension cords
- Do not allow children to play with or around electrical cords or electrical outlets
- Caution older children against playing near train tracks or power towers
- Make sure every power supply is shut off before any work is done on the electrical system
- Update old outlets to grounded (three prong) systems
- Replace outlets that are located near water with fused (GFCI) outlets
- Avoid mixing water and electricity
- During thunderstorms, seek shelter and crouch low if caught outdoors. Stay away from trees, metal objects and water. Lightning strikes are most likely to occur during the month of July and between the hours of noon and 6 PM.
It is impossible to entirely eliminate the danger or possibility of electrical shocks. However, communicating how to minimize the chances of and to properly respond to a shock with your customers is important.
Following an electric shock, an injury may manifest in very distinct ways. Two of the most common and severe are burns and muscle contractions.
Burns: Usually found on the hands, heels, or head, burns are most severe where contact was made with the electrical source. In homes with pets and very young and small children, burns have been found on the mouth, after biting an electrical cord. In terms of helping your diagnosing, burns often mark the entrance where electricity entered the body. These burns may also signify internal damage.
Muscle Contractions: When a person suffers from electrical shock, they often respond with violent muscle contractions. These muscle contractions can cause broken bones, spinal injuries, and even cardiac arrest.
Treating Electric Shock (SCOW)
Of the electric shock treatments to know, one of them can be described in the acronym ‘SCOW.’
When in a situation where someone is suffering from an electrical shock, here are the steps to take in ‘SCOW’:
- Separate: First, the person affected must be separated from the power source. This can include unplugging an appliance if the cord is not damaged or shutting off power via the circuit breaker, fuse box, or outside switch. If you are unable to turn the power source off, stand on something dry and non-conductive like dry newspapers, a telephone book or a wooden board, then try to separate the person from the current using a non-conductive object like a wooden or plastic broom, chair, or rubber doormat. Your goal, if possible, is to break the affected person out of an active circuit, without making yourself part of that circuit. If high voltage lines are involved, immediately call the providing power company to have those lines shut off.
- CPR: Once the victim is separated from the power source, check whether they are breathing and their pulse rate. If they are not breathing or do not have a pulse, begin CPR immediately. This procedure should only be performed by someone trained and accredited. Uninterrupted chest compressions of 100-120 a minute can keep the victim stable until the paramedics arrive.
(Some people have even used the Bee Gee’s song, “Stayin’ Alive,” to count the beats for compressions.)
- Other Injuries: If a person is bleeding from an arm or leg, elevate the bleeding limb. If there are severe burns, call 911 immediately. Minor burns can be treated with cool water or compresses. Burns should then be covered with clean gauze, cloth, or a non-adhesive bandage. Despite their status as “home remedies,” butter or ointments should not be used as they can cause infection.
- Wait for Medical Help: Have a doctor or EMT check the victim for fractures, dislocations and other injuries. They will also be able to determine if the person needs to be admitted to a hospital or burn center.
Seeking Medical Care for Shock
Some cases of electrical shock are more severe than others. In general, any high-voltage electrical shock should be treated immediately. Recommend immediate medical care for the following issues as well.
- Numbness, tingling, paralysis; vision, hearing, or speech problems, or any other worrisome symptoms
- Burns showing signs of increasing redness, soreness, or drainage
- Burns resulting from electric shock that are not healing
- Victims who are more than 20 weeks pregnant
- Victims whose last tetanus shot was more than five years ago
When someone is unsure of how high the voltage of an electric shock is, it is always better to seek treatment. Safety first! Make certain your customers know this cardinal rule!
Reviewing these details with your customer demonstrates your investment in their health, the safety of your work, and your willingness not only to stand behind your work, but also to acknowledge that electricity can be dangerous when it isn’t respected.
Providing your customer with these broad tips on electric shock treatments to know can prove to be substantially valuable to your customers and to your market authority and reputation.
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