Everyone has burned themselves on something in their life, pulling something out of a hot oven, touching a frayed electrical cord, or anything in between. Most of the time, small burns fade after a few hours to a few days, but sometimes burns are more severe and leave a permanent reminder of the injury.
Electrical burns can happen in a variety of ways and are usually accidental and easily preventable. This type of injury usually causes burns and scarring, but not always. If you’ve suffered from an electrical injury, even if you don’t see any external burns, it may be a good idea to get yourself checked out by a doctor.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Electrical Burns
Electrical burns and injuries can cause a range of damage to the skin, tissues, and major organs in our bodies. These injuries are commonly caused by contact with exposed wiring, parts of electrical appliances, or lightning strikes. Some electrical shocks or injuries may seem small on the surface but can still cause severe damage.
Some of the signs and symptoms of electrical burns are as follows:
- Visible burns on the skin
- Heart arrhythmias
If you were shocked or burned by a source of electricity, and you have any of those symptoms, chances are likely that you are more injured than you think you are. A lot of these injuries are under the surface, things that we can’t see, and should be taken seriously.
Factors in Electrical Injuries
In the case of an electrical burn, the type of current and amount of voltage contribute to the severity of injury. Low voltage exposures tend to have lesser injuries, but the voltage of most United States households is 110 to 220, which can cause muscle tetany, the inability to let go of the electrical source. This causes prolonged exposure, which results in more extensive damage than just a quick shock from an electrical outlet or something similarly minor.
High voltages greater than 500 to 1000 volts often cause deep burns and extensive deep tissue and organ damage. These injuries are usually from direct currents like being struck by lightning or coming into contact with a car battery, and while burns on the skin may not seem that severe, the internal damage can be much greater than you think.
Other factors can include your environment or where you are when the injury takes place. If you’re up on a ladder, on top of a roof, standing in water, or if you’re outside during a storm or other adverse weather when you are injured, it can impact how damaging an electrical burn or injury can be to your body. For example, you may suffer a concussion or broken bones from falling off a ladder, in addition to the electrical injury itself.
Potential Side Effects
While a lot of electrical burns or injuries may leave physical scars or marks on your body, there are a number of internal and more severe side effects and complications. We expect physical side effects following any type of injury, like stiff joints, general pain, or fatigue, but often, we don’t consider the ripple effect that incidents like electrical burns can have on our entire body.
- Muscle spasms
- Fever or night sweats
- Reduced range of motion or stiffness in the joints
- Loss of balance, poor coordination, or gait ataxia
- Memory or attention difficulties
- Post-traumatic stress
Some of these symptoms may go away after a short while; however, if the injury you sustained is more severe, you may suffer from these problems and pains for the foreseeable future. The level of treatment or management of an electrical injury varies, depending on your exact injury and its severity.
How You Can Protect Yourself
Electrical burns happen both at home and in workplaces from everyday items and during normal routines. Here’s a list of some things you can do to help prevent electrical injuries from happening:
- Put child safety covers on all electrical outlets.
- Keep electrical cords out of reach of children.
- Follow the directions when using electrical appliances.
- Avoid using electrical appliances in or near water.
- Turn off the circuit breaker when you are working with electricity.
- Don’t overload outlets or extension cords.
- Use surge protectors whenever possible.
- Frequently check all electrical appliances for frayed or damaged wiring.
Frayed wires, flickering lights, and overloaded outlets or extension cords can also be a potential fire hazard. It’s best to repair or replace any old or damaged wiring or appliances as soon as you notice any issues, such as being hot to the touch or sparks when being plugged in. This will greatly reduce the risk of electrical injuries or fires.
If you have concerns about electrical safety within the workplace, consider speaking with your supervisor or the company safety officer to ensure that all proper electrical safety guidelines and procedures are being followed.
Helping Burn Victims Like You
Please contact us today if you or someone you know needs assistance in the aftermath of electrical burns due to possible negligence or a work accident. Our experienced Charleston burn injury lawyers at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC have been helping burn victims and their families for decades, and our case evaluations are always free.