As we have stressed in previous electrical safety pieces, the electrical power systems in our homes and places of work can be taken for granted because we use them so often. Electrical injuries are not uncommon, but it only takes one incident to cause a catastrophic tragedy. In the US in 2016 there were 154 electrical fatalities, with 1,640 nonfatal electrical injuries sustained. That is why we at East-West Electric always stress the importance of adhering to the electrical safety rules in place.
Why do Humans Get Injured by Electricity?
Humans get injured by electricity when they become part of the electric circuit. We become part of the circuit if we are the easiest path for electricity to flow through and as we are more conductive than the ground we stand on, this is normally the case. The severity of an electric shock depends on the following:
- The voltage in the current
- The person’s resistance to the current
- Which path the current takes through the body
- The length of time the body is exposed to the current
What Effects Does Electricity Have on the Human Body?
Electrical burns are the most noticeable and simultaneously unnoticeable injuries that can be sustained during an electrical accident. We say this because a lot of the damage could be done internally with only a minor physical burn recognizable upon the point of entry or closer to the surface. If you have received an electrical burn you shouldn’t underestimate the seriousness as often times more extensive damage has been inflicted internally that can cause serious health issues. Heat is produced when electricity comes into contact with resistance.
Electricity can override the natural electrical signals that we send from the brain to the nerves and muscles. This manual override can cause severe muscle contractions, oftentimes prohibiting us from breaking the circuit we have unwillingly become a part of. The severity of this depends on the strength of the current and the length of time of exposure. Muscle contractions can result in respiratory failure, constriction of blood vessels, heart arrhythmia, and cardiac arrest. Prolonged exposure to electricity can result in oxygen deprivation t the brain which can have extreme life hindering repercussions if the victim survives the accident.
Electrocution is a combination of the words “electro” and “execution” because generally it is referred to as a fatality. But electrocution can also result in serious injury. Electrocution is the most serious of the 4 injuries sustained because it generally results in death or severe injury due to either a high voltage trauma or prolonged exposure to a low voltage.
The 4 Common Electrical Injuries Sustained by Humans
There are 5 common electrical injuries that we hear about on a regular basis. All of them, depending on the level of severity, can have life-altering implications if not result in death.
Caused by prolonged muscle contractions that prohibit the heart from functioning correctly. Heart arrhythmias that are caused by an electrical injury generally beat irregularly. This can also be referred to as ventricular fibrillation.
As mentioned above electricity has the ability to flow through water. Humans are made up 70% of water however there is resistance in the body that will cause heat within the current. This can cause severe internal burns that can damage the vital organs.
If electricity runs through the spine it can soften the discs between the vertebrae or permanently damage the nerves of the spinal cord. This can result in paralysis. It is also possible to be forcefully thrown by an electrical force which can result in a serious fall.
Severe damage to the internal organs and ruptured and burned tissue cells can cause severe internal bleeding. That is why if you sustained an electrical injury that doesn’t seem that serious you should still get professional medical attention immediately.
Loss of Consciousness
This is a common result of a lack of blood. Blood carries oxygen to the brain and without it the brain will shut down and try to preserve as much oxygen as it currently has.
Residential & Commercial Electrical Inspection in Pinellas County, FL
If you are worried about the dangers of electricity in your home or place of work you can give us a call to inspect your property and we can make recommendations to make it safer. Electricity is extremely dangerous if not handled with care. Hiring an experienced residential and commercial electrician is the first step to protecting your family and employees. Call us today at (727) 771-9403.