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Electrical Skin Burns


Electrical skin burns is a result of electric current having contact with some part of the body. The severity of injuries caused by electrical shock can be minor to severe and even fatal. Electrical shock can come from faulty wiring; there may be a short or the wire may not be grounded properly. In our homes we have 110 and 220 current. People who work on power lines work on high voltage wiring, which is over 500 volts of electricity. To protect themselves from electrical skin burns they wear special rubberized gloves and covering for their clothes.

Parents need to protect their babies and very young children from chewing on electrical cords. Skin burns can be so intense that deformities of the face and jaw can result. With this kind of injury the tissues of the lips can be severely burned. Sometimes our pets will be attracted to chewing on cords also, causing similar injuries.

Electrical shock that causes skin burns can be minor or major. Skin burns are only the surface of the problem; there may be internal structures affected. Shocks from high voltage can be so intense that the resulting muscle contractions can be severe enough to dislocate a joint. A major shock can stop the heart, which will cause instant death.

Contact with electricity often starts at the hand and ends at the foot, but can start at the head. Occasionally a person gets struck by lightening. If lightening strikes the head, it will most likely travel to the brain first and then make a path to exit the body. If the lightening strikes the hand first, it might travel through the heart as it finds its exit point.

Alternating current (AC) is more dangerous than direct current (DC). Direct current will shock you and cause a muscle contraction and then release the muscle; the result of a shock from direct current is that you will jump back from the source of electricity. With alternating current there is a continuous contraction of muscles causing an inability to let go of the source of electricity, which is a direct cause of electrical skin burns.

All of the equipment we use in our homes and at work needs to be properly grounded to prevent injuries such as electrical skin burns. The plug-ins for these devices have 3 prongs. Many older homes don’t have wall outlets to fit the 3 pronged plugs. Don’t ever cut off the third ground so the plug will fit a 2 prong receptacle. That ground prong is what is protecting you from an electrical injury that could be much more serious than a simple skin burn.

Electrical skin burns can happen if we come into contact with current when we are wet or in a wet area of the home. Special circuit breakers are available to trip when there is a current leak of as little as 5 milliamps. Electrical shock usually occurs when current leaks out of the normal pathway. There can be tiny cracks in the cords of the appliances we use that we can’t even see.

As a precaution against receiving an electrical skin burn, use appliances as they are directed. Take care in how you store an appliance and the cord attached to it. Never wind a power cord tightly around a hair drier or other appliance because that may result in minute cracks in the cord, which could cause electrical leakage.

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