It can be very frightening to witness someone else experiencing an electric shock. You may see them shake uncontrollably due to involuntary muscle contractions. Injuries resulting from an electric shock can range in severity depending on factors such as the voltage and the type of current. If the person loses consciousness, has difficulty breathing or shows any signs of serious injury, you should call 911 right away.
The Mayo Clinic cautions that you should never touch someone who has received an injury from an electric shock unless you are sure that he or she is no longer in contact with the power source. Otherwise, you may expose yourself to the current and possibly become injured as well. If you are unable to turn off the power, take a dry object made of wood, plastic or some other nonconducting material and use it to move the power source away. Do not try to move the person who has had the shock.
See if the person is moving, coughing or breathing. If not, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation. If you do not have training in CPR, you can perform hands-only chest compressions to keep the blood circulating until help arrives.
The individual may have electrical burns at the current’s entry and exit points. Cover these with a sterile gauze bandage but do not apply any adhesive directly to the burned skin. If you do not have sterile gauze, a clean cloth is acceptable. However, do not use anything with loose fibers that may stick to burned skin, such as a towel or blanket.
An electric shock may not cause any external injuries. However, there may be internal damage that you cannot see. Watch for warning signs such as confusion, seizures, heart arrhythmia or cardiac arrest.