Electric Shock Treatment

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

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.

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

  • 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.
  • 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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