May is National Electrical Safety Month, and this year’s theme is "Electrical Safety During Natural Disasters."
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) offers guidance for homeowners on how they can keep themselves, their families, and their property safe during storms and other events that can disrupt normal power service:
Before the storm hits, make sure to charge all phones and other communication devices. Then, unplug all electronics, and move them as high as possible to avoid water damage from flooding.
Turn of the main power breaker feeding the home to prevent any surges to the wiring and equipment.
After the storm...it’s important to avoid flooded areas as they may be electrified. If flooding has occurred, have the electrical system inspected by a qualified electrical inspector.
Do not use any electrical equipment or electronics if they’ve been submerged.
When venturing outside, be very alert of your surroundings. If you encounter a fallen power line, stay at least 35 feet away. Avoid touching any objects the line may be laying on such as a fence, a car, or a light pole as the object could be energized. If others are around, alert them to stay away and call 911.
Electrical injuries and fatalities are a serious concern in the workplace. ESFI shares some sobering statistics, based on data collected from 2003-2017:
55% of fatal electrical injuries occurred in the construction industry
Contact with / exposure to electricity is the 6th most common cause of workplace fatality
5% of electrical injuries in 2017 were fatal
Although there was an 11% drop in fatal electrical injuries between 2016-2017, that same time period saw a 35% increase in electrical injuries
To download a PDF to share these and other stats at your next safety meeting, visit the ESFI website here.
For getting your employees the training they need to stay safe when working with electricity, check out our Vivid Learning Systems catalog of courses on electrical safety, electrical hazards, arc flash, and more. Plus, Summit Training Source has your construction crew covered with our OSHA 10- and 30-hour training for construction and general industry.
Responding to Electrical Burns
Medical emergencies involving electricity can occur when there is direct contact with an energized object, such as an electrical wire or outlet, or when someone is struck by lightning.
Be safe! Turn off any electrical current before touching the person. If you cannot stop the flow of electricity, do not enter the area around the person or attempt to care for him or her.
An electric shock can cause an abnormal heart rhythm in which the heart stops moving blood. When it is safe, perform CPR and use an AED if one becomes available.
When a body part comes into contact with an exposed electrical source, electricity can travel from the point of contact to a second point of contact that is grounded. Common points of contact include the hands and the feet.
If the person affected is responsive and no longer in contact with the electrical source, look for burns at any suspected points of contact. Cool the burn as you would with a thermal burn.
A person who has received an electrical shock should seek professional medical care because serious internal injuries can occur.
Electrical, chemical, and thermal burns – they’re all covered in our comprehensive CPR, AED, and first aid training courses from ASHI and MEDIC First Aid. If you need to get up to speed on how to respond to these and other medical emergencies, click the button below to find a Training Center near you.