Electric Shock Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on January 27, 2022

Call 911 if:

  • The person has been injured by an electrical shock.

Electrical shocks always need emergency medical attention -- even if the person seems to be fine afterward.

The 911 emergency personnel may instruct you on the following:

1. Separate the Person From Current's Source

To turn off power:

  • Unplug an appliance if plug is undamaged or shut off power via circuit breaker, fuse box, or outside switch.

If you can't turn off power:

  • Stand on something dry and non-conductive, such as dry newspapers, telephone book, or wooden board.
  • Try to separate the person from current using non-conductive object such as wooden or plastic broom handle, chair, or rubber doormat.

If high voltage lines are involved:

  • The local power company must shut them off.
  • Do not try to separate the person from current if you feel a tingling sensation in your legs and lower body. Hop on one foot to a safe place where you can wait for lines to be disconnected.
  • If a power line falls on a car, instruct the passengers to stay inside unless explosion or fire threatens.

2. Do CPR, if Necessary

When you can safely touch the person, do CPR if the person is not breathing or does not have a pulse.

3. Check for Other Injuries

  • If the person is bleeding, apply pressure and elevate the wound if it's in an arm or leg.
  • There may be a fracture if the shock caused the person to fall.
  • For burns, see Burn Treatment.

4. Wait for 911 to Arrive

5. Follow Up

  • A doctor will check the person for burns, fractures, dislocations, and other injuries.
  • An ECG, blood tests, urine test, CT scan, or MRI may be necessary.
  • The person may be admitted to the hospital or a burn center.

Show Sources


Thygerson, A. American College of Emergency Physicians First Aid and CPR Essentials, Jones and Bartlett, 2007.

Fermie, P. The Illustrated Practical Book of First Aid & Family Health, Lorenz Books, 2005.

Merck Manual: "Electrical and Lightning Injures."

Subbarao, I. AMA Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care, Random House Reference, 2009.

CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: "Electrical Safety."

Electric Shock Information from eMedicineHealth.

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