First Aid in Electrical Accidents

First aid training

In electrical sector work preparedness to give first aid in case of accidents caused by electricity should always be ensured (Electrical safety standard SFS 6002). The general provision on preparedness to give first aid is set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Everyone who takes part in performing electrical work that requires professional skills must go through first aid training. This requirement applies to professionals in the electrical sector, management, supervisors and persons instructed in providing assistance in this work.

First aid training should include at least

  • first aid given for burns, crushes and cuts, and
  • teaching mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and related practical training.

First aid skills need to be constantly maintained. First aid methods should be practised at least every three years.


First aid instruction table and the STcard

Tables giving first aid instructions should be placed in electrical repair shops and electrical laboratories. It is also recommended that these tables are placed in equipment rooms and electrical staff lounges.

First aid instructions for electrical accidents are shown in the Electrical information card (ST card) ST 13.05.

First aid tables for electrical accidents are sold by the Finnish Red Cross and Sähköinfo Oy which also sells ST cards.


First aid measures

  1. Quickly assess the situation.
  2. Cut the power and move the injured person without endangering yourself.
  • Cut the power by using a switch, removing a fuse or in a similar manner.
  • If the power cannot be cut quickly, move the injured person away from the source of electricity with an insulating object, such as a dry piece of wood, rope or clothing.
  • Never use moist or metallic objects for moving the injured person.
  • In high-voltage accidents, you should not start actual rescue measures before a professional electrician has cut the power.
  1. Check the condition of the injured person.
  • When a person suddenly loses consciousness or appears lifeless, immediately check if he/she can be woken up by speaking to or shaking the person.
  1. Call for help: 112.
  • If the injured person will not wake up and is unresponsive, call for help and ask one of the people present to call 112. If you are alone, make the call yourself. Follow the instructions given by the emergency response centre.
  1. Give first aid.
  • Open the airways and check for breathing: Lift the chin upwards with two fingers and tilt the head back with your other hand by pressing on the forehead. See if the chest is moving, and if you can hear normal sounds of breathing or feel an air stream on your cheek.
  • If the person is breathing normally place the person on his/her side to secure breathing. Monitor the breathing until professional help arrives.
  • If breathing is not normal, start chest compressions. Place the palm of your hand in the centre of the sternum and your other hand on top of it. Give 30 compressions with straight arms in a piston-like motion with the speed of approximately 100 compressions per minute. Let the chest compress roughly 4 – 5 cm.
  • Continue with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Open the airways again. Lift the chin upwards with two fingers and tilt the head back with your other hand by pressing on the forehead. Close the nostrils with your thumb and index finger. Seal your lips tightly around the person’s mouth and blow air into the lungs 2 time while monitoring the movement of the chest.
  • Continue CPR with the rhythm of 30 compression and 2 blows, until you can hand the responsibility over to professionals, breathing returns or you become to tired to continue.

Resuscitation is most likely to succeed if it has been practised with a professional.


First aid for shock

A shock effect can occur with electrical accidents with a current above 50 mA if the duration is shorter that the cardiac cycle.

How to give first aid to someone who has suffered an electric shock:

  • lay the person down
  • elevate legs
  • if the patient is cold – keep him/her warm with a blanket, coat or heating fabric.
  • remain calm
  • make sure that emergency services are called
  • do not leave the person alone, unless necessary to get help, for example.


The symptoms of shock develop quickly. The symptoms of shock include:

  • dizziness
  • thirst
  • rapid and faint heart beat
  • pale skin and cold sweat.

Without first aid shock will worsen and may even lead to unconsciousness. The harmful effects of shock to the organ system can be prevented with proper first aid.

Burns in electrical accidents

In electrical accidents, the victim often sustains burns. In addition to superficial burn on the skin, electricity causes internal burns that can be severe and cannot be visually observed.

First aid for a regular superficial burn is cooling, but in an electrical accident taking care of burns is secondary to ensuring the victim’s vital functions. If the victim needs to be resuscitated, nothing should be done with burns when giving first aid.

Eyes being exposed to a strong electric arc can lead to a sudden glare. A moist cold compress eases pain. Seek further treatment if necessary.

Cooperation between the emergency response centre, the helper providing first aid and emergency service professionals is vital during first aid.  Maintain the first aid skills you have learned!