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Electric Shock (cont.)

Electric Shock and Lightning Strike Prevention

Steps to prevent electrical injury depend primarily on the age of people involved.

  • For children younger than 12 years, most electrical injuries are caused by power cords. Inspect your power cords and extension cords. Replace any cords that have broken or cracked external covering and any cord that has exposed wire.
    • Do not allow children to play with any electrical cord.
    • Limit use of extension cords and be sure the cord is rated for the current (measured in amps) that will be drawn by the device being powered.
    • Use outlet covers to protect infants from exploring electrical outlets.
    • Update old, ungrounded electrical outlets to grounded (3-prong) systems. Replace outlets near any water (sink, tub) with fused (GFCI) outlets.
  • In children older than 12 years, most electrical injuries result from exploring and activities around high-power systems. Explain to adolescent children that they should not climb on power towers, play near transformer systems, or explore electrified train rails or other electrical systems.
  • Among adults, use of common sense can help reduce electrical injury. People who work with electricity should always check that the power is off before working on electrical systems. Avoid use of any electrical device near water. Be careful and do not stand in water when working with electricity.
  • Use caution when outdoors during a thunderstorm with lightning. Protect yourself from lightning strikes by seeking shelter in a sturdy building or crouching low and stay away from trees and metal objects (golf clubs, metal baseball bats) if caught outdoors. If you are fishing, swimming, surfing or standing in water, get out of the water immediately and seek appropriate shelter.
  • Sometimes weather conditions change rapidly; what may seem like a normal day or a simple rain shower may suddenly produce a lightning strike. For example, a lightning strike in August 2014 occurred in California (Venice Beach), killing one person and shocking 12 others on the beach or in the water. That same day, a golfer on nearby Catalina Island was struck by lightning and hospitalized.
  • Although lightning strikes may occur at any time, they are most frequent in the US usually in July with about 2/3 of strikes occurring between noon and 6 pm according to CDC statistics; Florida is the current "lightning capital" of the US.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/2/2014

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