What Are Electrical Burns?

An electrical burn results when electrical current jumps from an electrical appliance, cord, or outlet and passes through the body. The passing electricity can burn the skin; at times deep burns can result.

Symptoms of electrical burns are:

1st-degree burns are mild and affect the outer layer of skin only. The skin turns red, but will appear white when the skin is touched. There may be pain when the skin is touched.

2nd-degree electrical burns affect deeper layers of skin, are very painful and may present blisters.

3rd-degree electrical burns are the deepest type of burn caused by electricity. The skin may appear white and leathery. There may be a swelling in the affected area. The injured individual may complain of a headache, dizziness and also may have a fever.

There are many ways that an electrical burn may occur including putting a knife into a toaster that is still plugged in, dropping an electrical appliance into water, chewing or sucking on an electrical cord, and sticking something that doesn’t belong into an electrical outlet.

First Aid for an electrical burn:

Get medical attention for any electrical burn.

A small electrical burn may be able to be handled at home, but call a doctor for advice.

If the burned area is large, shock is a possibility. Never drive yourself to the hospital after receiving an electrical burn as shock may occur while driving and further injury may result.

Immediate first aid:

Soak burned skin in cold water for approximately 10 minutes

Wash the burn gently with warm soapy water. Pat dry with a clean towel and cover with a sterile, dry bandage.

The burn will need to be cleaned and re-bandaged with a clean bandage once a day. Everything that touches the burn must be clean. The only ointment ever to be put on a burn is that which a doctor has prescribed

Change the bandage if it gets wet

Keep your leg or arm elevated if that is where the burn is for the first 24 hours. Elevating your burned leg or arm will help to reduce any swelling.

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be used for pain

Drink lots of water or juice to replace any fluids lost because of the burn

Mouth burns require that the individual eat only bland, soft, cold foods such as baby foods, soft cooked eggs, cooked cereal, ice cream, yogurt and also lots of fluids like water, milk, fruit juices.

How to prevent electrical burns:

Do not stick anything that does not belong there into an electrical outlet

Cover unused electrical outlets with childproof plug covers

Do not use electrical appliances by standing or running water

Never stick any type of utensil (fork, knives etc. into a toaster or other appliance).

Any electrical cord that is frayed, worn or really old should be replaced.

Teach children to never suck or chew on electrical cords.