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The Effect of Electric Shock on the Human Body: Dangers in Kids

The Effect of Electric Shock on the Human Body: Dangers in Kids

According to recent reports, a 2-year old boy from Quezon City died after inserting a metal spoon into an electrical extension. What is the effect of electric shock on the human body, how do you apply first-aid, and what are the steps to prevent it in kids? Find out here.

2-year old electrocuted after inserting spoon in an electrical extension

Eloisa Angara, the mother of the boy, Jake, recounted1 that she prepared his milk and left the metal spoon in a place that is out of the child’s reach. As she was about to open the door, Eloisa described how she heard a sound – like something fell. Her husband then yelled that their toddler had been electrocuted after inserting the spoon into an electrical extension.

The parents immediately brought their toddler to the hospital, but the child had succumbed to the fatal electrical injury.

Experts highlighted that electrical accidents could really occur if you insert something in the outlet or extension.

They also warned parents that young kids might even be curious enough to insert their little finger into the electrical outlet.

Electrical Injuries are Common in Children

Reports say that electrical injuries are common in children, especially toddlers, who are too young to comprehend its dangers.

Toddlers often sustain electric shock from biting into cords or inserting metal objects such as knives, forks, and spoons into unprotected appliances and outlets.

Electric shock can also happen when electrical toys, tools, and appliances are used incorrectly or come in contact with water where a child is standing or sitting (bathtub, pool, etc.)

What is the Effect of Electric Shock on the Human Body?

Electric shock occurs when electricity passes through the body, causing minor or severe injuries. The extent of damages usually depends on the following factors:

  • Type of Current: Alternating Current (AC), where the direction of electricity changes periodically, tends to be more dangerous. Direct Current (DC) is less harmful; people often get thrown off when exposed to DC.
  • Tissues Involved: Moist tissues such as the mouth (when kids bite into the cord) increase conductivity and are, therefore, more severe.
  • Path: Path refers to how the electricity flows in the body. Trans-thoracic (hand-to-hand) tends to be the most dangerous because of the increased risk of heart and spinal cord damage. The next most hazardous is vertical (hand-to-foot), and the least dangerous is straddle (foot-to-foot).
  • Duration: The effect of electric shock on the human body also depends on the duration. The longer the exposure is, the more serious the injuries tend to be.

And of course, the amount of voltage involved plays a significant role in whether or not the child sustains a minor or serious injury.

effect of electric shock on human body

Depending on these factors, a child may sustain any of the following damages:

  • Direct trauma, which means there’s tissue damage. Say, if the heart sustains damage, the child may experience arrhythmias.
  • Mechanical effects, which may point to fractures resulting from muscle spasms or falls after getting thrown off.
  • Burns, which occur due to the conversion of electricity to thermal energy.

First-Aid for Electric Shock in Children

Regardless of the effect of electric shock on the human body, parents must keep the following first-aid tips in mind for when they encounter an electrical injury scenario:

  • Before touching the injured child, be sure to pull the plug or turn off the main switch.
  • Never touch a live wire with your bare hands. If a wire is sticking to your child, lift it using a material that doesn’t conduct electricity, such as a rolled newspaper, thick cloth, or a dry stick.
  • Try not to move the child too much, as there’s a risk that they have sustained a spinal injury.
  • Once the child is safely away from the current, check for their breathing, pulse rate, alertness, and skin color. Perform CPR when needed.
  • Bring the child to the hospital immediately.

How to Prevent Electric Shock in Kids

According to experts, the best way to prevent electrical shock in kids is to cover all outlets with sturdy plates, check the integrity of insulation in wires, and keep cords out of their reach.

Finally, don’t forget to supervise a child whenever they are in an area with electrical hazards.

Learn more about Toddler-Proofing Your Home here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

1) 2-year-old dies, electrocuted after putting metal spoon into extension
https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/metro/776993/2-year-old-dies-after-placing-spoon-into-electrical-extension/story/
Accessed February 23, 2021

Electrical injuries
https://pch.health.wa.gov.au/For-health-professionals/Emergency-Department-Guidelines/Electrical-injuries
Accessed February 23, 2021

Do children need to be monitored after electric shocks?
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9767515/
Accessed February 23, 2021

electrocute / shock
https://brians.wsu.edu/2016/05/25/electrocute-shock/
Accessed February 23, 2021

Treating Children with Electrical Injuries
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/articles/treating-children-with-electrical-injuries
Accessed February 23, 2021

Electric Shock Injuries in Children
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/Pages/Electric-Shock.aspx
Accessed February 23, 2021

Electrical shock: First aid
https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-electrical-shock/basics/art-20056695
Accessed February 23, 2021

Picture of the author
Medical reviewed by Elfred Landas
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Updated Feb 23
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