Most of us expect to turn on the power supply of an appliance or switch on a light and find everything working as we expect. When it doesn’t work we are left feeling somewhat bewildered, flustered, or sometimes even angry. A quick call to an electrician or a replacement bulb usually fixes the problem. However, if the problem is of a more serious, life-threatening emergency, knowing how to deal with the problem and protect others is essential.
1. Check for Danger
People who have completed first aid courses know the importance of checking for danger before touching anyone who is unconscious or injured. Never is this more important than if the person has been electrocuted. Live electrical wires still in contact with the person pose a threat to rescuers and it is essential that the power supply is turned off before providing first aid to anyone suspected of being injured in an electrical accident.
If a family member is found unconscious in a home, especially if it is obvious they are close to an electrical appliance, light switch or PowerPoint, it is wise to turn off the power source to the house in anticipation there may be danger caused by a faulty appliance or other electrical problem.
2. Never Use Water on Electrical Fires
If you suspect that a fire has been started due to an electrical fault or if the fire is on a stove or in an appliance switch off the main power supply and use a fire blanket or a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher to smother and extinguish the flames. Do not use water on an electrical fire. Water is an electrical conductor and you will potentially become a victim yourself if you attempt to put out a fire using water or water-based products.
3. Electrical Burns
Electrical burns are usually caused when electricity passes through a person’s body and there is inevitably an entry point and an exit point. Common causes of electrical burns can include electrocution and lightning strikes. Although rare, they do happen frequently and if they do occur the first aid treatment is to first isolate and remove any danger to yourself, treat the victim for shock, and resuscitate if necessary. Only after these two are addressed should you attend to the burn. When creating an electrical burn remember that there will usually be two areas to treat and not just one. Always look for the second burn when treating someone for an obvious electrical burn.
Prevention of Emergencies
When an electrical emergency has occurred, an ambulance should always be called. It is also wise to contact an electrician or emergency services to check the cause of the electrical fault before restoring power to the building. Prevention is always better than cure and simple steps such as replacing damaged appliances or leads and installing power safety circuit trippers will reduce the incidence of indoor electrical accidents and minimize consequences of accidents when they do happen. Ensuring that appliances are never left on will reduce the incidents of fires and other accidents occurring if the appliance is left unsupervised whilst in use.