As discussed in other articles on this website, the first step to take in electrical safety is to ensure that any electrical installation or maintenance work that you carry out (or have carried out for you) is done properly, following Part P of the Building Regulations, by a fully trained and competent electrician. However, accidents do happen and here we have some guidelines as to what to do if you are present when someone has been electrocuted, potentially life-saving actions if the electrocution incident is serious.
Remove the Electricity Source
The absolute first priority is to cut off the power, to prevent the victim receiving further injury and to prevent others from becoming electrocuted. Care must be taken when deactivating the electricity not to become a victim yourself , make sure you are not wet or standing in water and do not touch the victim until the power source is isolated. Activate the circuit breaker, turn off and unplug any appliance involved.
Remove the Victim from Danger
Although it should be safe to touch the victim once the power source is turned off, don’t take any chances, there is no point you becoming a victim as well. Use an object that doesn’t conduct electricity (e.g. rope or a piece of wood) to move the victim away from the cause of electrocution, if safe to do so. This last point is crucial, for if the individual was electrocuted by, for instance, a high-voltage power line, it will not be safe to approach that person as there is the risk of electricity arcing to you.
Get Professional Help
Call the emergency services (dial 999) using your landline or mobile as they will have the training and expertise to help in a way that you cannot. Try to keep calm so that your description of the incident and its location is clear and accurate, improving the chances of the emergency services taking the appropriate actions in a prompt manner.
Apply First Aid
While waiting for the emergency services to arrive, and if safe to do so, you should carry out first aid on the victim. There is a good chance that the victim’s heart may have stopped, in which case you need to carry out Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). All the better if you have had first aid training, otherwise here are the basics to CPR;
- Start chest compressions, pressing down on the chest until the chest moves approximately two inches, then release and aim to repeat this at around 100 times per minute. As a guide, the beat of the Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive is the correct rhythm.
- It is possible that you will crack a rib while doing this, particularly on a young victim, but don’t let this stop you as a cracked rib will heal in time!
- Raise the victim’s head to open their airway, pinch their nose and blow into their mouth, giving a couple of deep breaths.
Hopefully, the emergency services will arrive quickly and take over.
In summary, if you discover someone who has been electrocuted, carry out the above steps and you will improve their chances of survival and recovery.