Children's Health and Wellness

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns occur when there is contact with electricity.

Caring for an electrical burn

  • Call or send someone to call 911 for emergency medical assistance whenever an electrical burn occurs. Significant electrical injuries will need urgent medical care.

  • Unplug the appliance or device that has caused the injury or turn off the electrical current at the circuit breaker.

  • If the child is in contact with the electrical current, do not touch him or her until you turn off the source or the circuit breaker.

  • Determine that the child is still breathing. If the child is not breathing, call or send someone to call 911 and begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

  • Cover the burned area with a sterile gauze bandage or clean bed sheet.

  • Be aware that a child may experience "shock" after an electrical burn.

  • Do not give your child anything to eat or drink.

  • Place the child on his or her back, unless a neck or back injury is suspected. If neck or back injury is suspected, do not move the child until paramedics or emergency medical assistance arrives.

  • If the child has vomited or has a serious injury to the face or mouth area, you may place the child on his or her side.

  • Keep your child warm with blankets or extra clothing, but do not use a heat source to warm him or her.

  • Elevate your child's feet and legs, using a prop or pillow.

Print Source: Environmental and weapon-related electrical injuries, Up To Date
Print Source: Markenson, D. Part 17: First Aid: 2010 American Heart Association and American Red Cross Guidelines for First Aid. Circulation 92010); 122(18); pp. s934-s946
Print Source: Roberts, An evidence-based approach to electrical injuries in children. Pediatric Emerg Med Pract (2013); 10(9); pp. 1-16
Online Source: American College of Emergency Physicians. What to do in a Medical Emergency: Electrical Injury - Shockhttp://www.emergencycareforyou.org/EmergencyManual/WhatToDoInMedicalEmergency/Default.aspx?id=236
Online Editor: Metzger, Geri
Online Medical Reviewer: Duldner, John E., MD, MS
Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/31/2015
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.