We’ve probably all gotten a small electric shock in our life, whether it’s from a lamp with a faulty wire or touching a doorknob after rubbing your feet on the carpet, and we’ve also probably laughed it off. But when it comes to large-scale electrocution, the truth is that there’s nothing funny about it. An electrical shock can cause severe injury in a variety of ways. Additionally, a nasty shock could be waiting for you in places where you least suspect it. To help better understand electrocution, here is a brief rundown of what you should know about electrical injuries.
What Happens During an Electric Shock?
When we think of being electrocuted, we often think of electricity flowing through our body as though it was water, but this is a common misconception about the process. Even as you sit and read this blog, there is electricity inside of you. In fact, it’s the primary source of communication between your brain and nerves. Whether it’s your heart beating or you reaching for your cup of coffee, electrical signals are the brain’s way of making the body move. So, it’s not so much as an electrical charge being introduced into your body, but being greatly increased at once.
While the current attempts to pass through you, it meets resistance, primarily by your skin but also in the form of your muscles, nerves, and organs. Remember, because your body already understands to respond to electrical impulses, a strong shock will trigger intensified reactions throughout your system. For example, you may flail your arms uncontrollably or experience intense and rapid heartbeats. Essentially, your body is like a circuit board that is being overloaded, which can lead to painful and worrisome injuries.
Sources of Electrical Injury
An electrical shock is one of the most visceral and alarming forms of injury at risk to people today. In some cases, that risk is made greater by other peoples’ negligence, like not maintaining their property, not providing signage or warning of an electric current, or manufacturing a faulty product. Here are just a few examples of this negligence as well as common sources of electrical shock:
- Frayed extension cords or wires
- Improperly installed or maintained electrical outlets
- Poorly-maintained machinery or vehicle engines
- Lightning in any case, but especially near trees or downed power lines
- Appliances installed or stored close to water
- High voltage power lines that aren’t maintained
Potential Injuries from Electric Shock
When serious enough, an electric shock can manifest physically in several ways. These injuries can range from minor and treatable to intense and life-threatening, so it’s important to understand what to look for after you or a loved one has had an electrical accident.
The most common form of injury following a shock, burns can occur at the sight of contact for the electrical current or elsewhere throughout the body. Because the flesh acts as a resistor, the skin can heat up dramatically, leading to painful second or third-degree burns. These will typically be visible on the skin, but can also occur internally, depending on the temperature or voltage level of the current.
- Cardiac Damage
Though microcurrents are used in medical devices like pacemakers or defibrillators, unregulated amounts of electricity can cause heart damage and even cardiac arrest. Damage to the heart can prove to be fatal without immediate treatment as it prevents the heart muscles from moving independently to pump blood throughout the body.
- Neurological Dangers
The body’s nervous system controls a lot of essential functions, such as our lungs, heart, and brain. A severe shock could cause mass disruption in the nervous system, just like a power surge can short out wires. This can lead to irregular breathing patterns, heart rate, or even cognitive ability. When a current’s pathway is in the head and skull area, this can cause an instant loss of consciousness.
- Physical Trauma
Because electrical impulses are how our muscles move, an excess amount of electricity can cause a “false positive,” essentially tricking the muscles into contracting wildly and unexpectedly. These jerking movements can often lead to injuries sustained from falling or slamming against a surface. Though not common, a severe electrical shock could also cause damage to the skeletal systems, resulting in fractured or even broken bones.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of an electrical injury and believe you have a case, the partners at Indianapolis’ Christie Farrell Lee & Bell want to help you get peace of mind to move forward in life. From listening to your story to fighting for you in court, we’re your advocates. Contact us today for a free consultation.