Treating Other Types of Burn
The general principle of treating burns remains to cool and cover the affected area but some types of burn need extra consideration. With burns to the neck and mouth, beyond the risk of shock and infection, the greatest potential problem is the risk of airway obstruction due to swelling. The obvious additional danger with electrical burns is the combination of water as a treatment and electricity as the cause.
Treating burns to the neck and mouth - First Aid
Although rare, lightning strikes do happen and can kill. If caught outside in a thunderstorm, seek shelter in a car or building.
If there is no shelter, make yourself as low as possible, minimise your contact with the ground by crouching and avoid single trees, bodies of water and tall objects.
If a person has been struck by lightning, check their airway and breathing, be prepared to resuscitate, treat any burns and call for help.
If a casualty has suffered from an electric shock, do not attempt to touch the person unless you are absolutely certain that he or she is no longer in contact with live equipment. If the person is still attached to an electrical current, your best option is to turn the electricity off at the mains point. If you cannot access the mains, you may be able to turn off electrical equipment at the wall socket but be particularly careful that you do not touch the casualty or any live equipment.
If there is no way to turn the electricity off, you can attempt to move the casualty away from the point of contact using a nonconducting material such as a broom handle and by insulating yourself as much as possible by wearing rubber gloves and shoes, and by standing on a telephone directory.
Electricity demands respect - if in doubt call in professional help. Do not put yourself in any danger.
Treating electrical burns - First Aid
A casualty suffering from an electrical burn may well have respiratory or circulatory difficulties. An electrical discharge across the heart can make the heart stop beating, so be prepared to resuscitate the casualty over and above the treatment of any burn that may be present.
High-voltage electricity (power lines, railway tracks, overhead power cables etc.) usually kills immediately, causing severe burns, heart problems and potentially even broken bones and internal injuries as the casualty is thrown by the shock.
If somebody has been hit, your first priority is to keep yourself and other bystanders safe. High-voltage currents can jump some distance so keep people back at least 20 metres (66 feet) and call for professional help via the emergency services.
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