Electrocution injuries are often strange and scary injuries. There is no certainty regarding how an electric shock will affect a person. There are several factors that have an effect on the type and severity of an injury received as the result of a shock. Factors like the strength of the current and voltage greatly affect the severity of injuries.
Other factors are not as clear, as injuries can vary from person to person based on someone’s physiology.
Involuntary Muscle Contraction
The smallest electric shock will affect your muscles. Involuntary muscle contractions are typical as a result of a shock. The severity of the contraction depends on the level of current and voltage. A mild contraction can cause discomfort but will not result in a permanent injury. However, there are involuntary contractions that are strong enough to cause permanent injury and even death.
Tissues are easily damaged as a result of severe contractions. The tissue damage can be suffered by the muscles of your organs, causing organ failure. Ventricular fibrillation occurs when the muscles of the heart involuntarily contract. The coordinating action of the heart chambers is disrupted by individually contracting muscles. Fibrillation often causes death if a defibrillator is not immediately employed.
In the case of electrocution from lower currents, involuntary contractions can cause death. It is a misconception that it takes high-voltage for a shock to be fatal. Involuntary contractions can cause a victim to grip an electric source instead of releasing. A low current is capable of causing death if the duration of the shock is long enough to induce fibrillation. High-voltage shocks have enough force to cause a blast, breaking a victim’s contact with the source.
The most infamous of injuries are the severe burns endured from electrocution. It is common for electricity to exit the body via the extremities. Many receive burns to the limbs and digits after shock from a high-voltage source. They are often quite severe, resulting in amputations. The most severe burns are suffered internally. An electric shock between 500 and 1000 volts can cause internal burning to the organs and tissues. The burns will occur in the pathway of the shock.
Arc flash burns are especially dangerous. An arc flash emits the same light radiation used in arc welding. The temperatures are extremely high, but even more dangerous is the potential blast created by the arc. A blast from an arc flash is substantial enough to break bones and damage internal organs.
Factors that Increase Fatalities
It is important to remember that voltage can jump through the air. It is not necessary to be in direct contact with a high-voltage device. You can still receive a severe shock if you are within close proximity to high voltage. If it is raining or if your skin is wet, your body is less resistant and more conducive to electric shock.
There are factors that increase the chance that an electric shock will be fatal. The higher the current is, the higher the risk of fatality becomes. The duration of a shock also increases the chances of the injuries becoming fatal. The most important determining factor in fatality cases involving electricity is the pathway of the electric shock. An electric shock that travels through the heart is much more likely to cause a fatality due to fibrillation.
Electricity is a part of nature; it cannot be avoided. It saves lives just as easily as it takes lives. It is a necessary evil that must be respected and understood.