Children's Health and Wellness

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns occur when there is contact with electricity, either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).

Caring for an electrical burn:

  • Call or send someone to call 911 for emergency medical assistance. Significant electrical injuries will need medical care.

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

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

  • Determine that the child is still breathing. If the child is not breathing, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

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

  • Maintain your child's normal body temperature, and take the child to an emergency center.

  • Be aware that a child may experience "shock" after an electrical burn. If your child is showing signs of shock, send someone to call 911 immediately.

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

  • Place the child on his/her back, unless a neck or back injury is suspected.

  • If the child has vomited or has a serious injury to the face or mouth area, you may place the child on his/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: 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
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: Kolbus, Karin, RNH, DNP, COHN-S
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 5/18/2013
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