Even though child electrocution is rare, even one fatality is too many— electrical currents can be deadly. Sadly, even the smallest of errors, from toy design to swimming pool lights, can cause electrocution and shock – and they are almost always preventable. Children account for approximately 20 percent of all electrical injuries and U.S. hospitals treat an average of seven children per day that are injured from tampering with electrical outlets.
Victim age appears to be a factor in electrocution incidents. A recent U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report showed there were three times as many electrocutions to victims 40 through 59 years old than there were to victims 19 years of age and younger, even though the U.S. population in these age groups is about equal
A study in the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health http://www.jpchonline.com/ found that most child deaths (aged between 10 months and 15 years) attributed to electrocution were due to accidents occurring while playing with or near faulty electrical equipment or wires at home (69 percent of deaths occur in the home) or at school. Other incidents included electrical equipment while in the bath, damaged outdoor electrical equipment and overhead wires. Researchers concluded that deaths result from either faulty apparatus, or a lack of understanding of the potential dangers involved.
Child injury attorney Jeff Killino is experienced with child electrocution and electric shock injuries. If your child has suffered electrocution or electric shock injury, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Electrical burns can be deceiving. They may look insignificant but there can still be serious injury. For instance, electric shock injuries can cause damage to the internal organs from direct contact with an electrical current. Electric currents passing through the body and can result in the following damage:
- Muscle, nerve and tissue destruction
- Thermal skin burns
- Head injury from a fall after contact with electricity
- Cardiac arrest
Electrocution vs. Electric Shock
Electric Shock is not the same as an electrocution. An electrocution happens when the electric current is so strong that it causes severe internal burns and cardiac arrest. A shock will be painful and cause a person to drop the electric item immediately. A shock can also cause damage to nerves, muscles and internal organs, according to the American Burn Association. http://ameriburn.org/
Electricity always follows a path to ground. When that path is through the body, tissues and muscle can burn. Electrocution can cause much greater damage than is visible. It may also ignite clothing causing external skin burns.
The severity of the shock depends on these factors:
- amount of current (amperage);
- type of current (direct or alternating);
- the body’s resistance to the current;
- the current’s path through the body;
- amount of time the body remains in contact with the current.
How Electric Shock Injuries Occur
Household appliance electrical cords and extension cords cause more than 63 percent of injuries in children under the age of 12. Wall outlets cause 15 percent of electric injuries. In infants, putting metal objects in their mouths is the most common cause of electric shock injuries.
Very young children experience electric shock typically when they bite into electrical cords or poke metal objects such as knives and forks into unprotected outlets or appliances. These injuries can also take place when electric toys, appliances, or tools are used incorrectly or when electric current makes contact with water in which a child is sitting or standing. Christmas trees and their lights are a seasonal hazard.
Electrocution or burns from electronic toys made for children, particularly products with smaller parts and components, are required to have properly labeled warnings and instructions. A manufacturer’s failure to safety-test their products can put a child at risk.
Swimming Pool Electric Shock Drowning
Far too many children have died when an electrical current, most often from a short circuit in electrical wiring of a dock, boat, or pump, spreads through the water.
Lights and wires from pool equipment, amusement rides or docks can cause electrocution or electrical shock drowning (ESD). Small appliances are a special hazard around bathtubs or pools. If you or your child feels a tingle, get out of the water immediately.
Child Electrocution and Electric Shock Incidents
The CPSC recorded 21 deaths related to swimming pool electrocutions since 2002. In July 2019 that number reached 22 when a nine-year-old girl was electrocuted due to a light malfunction in the family swimming pool. Police say the light fixture was in the process of being repaired and wasn’t sealed, exposing the girl to the current.
Three boy scouts in 2017 were electrocuted when their catamaran mast struck a live power line.
A six-year-old girl suffered brain damage after being electrocuted by an illuminated handrail bordering a fountain at a resort. The girl received 120 volts of electricity when she touched the railing of a lit-up water fountain at the resort. The amount of electric shock that ran through her body was 10 times greater than what was required to light the handrail. The child went into immediate cardiac arrest and the resort did not have a defibrillator on site.
A three-year-old boy suffered a severe electric shock at a daycare when he found keys and stuck them into an electrical outlet. The boy suffered first- and second-degree burns on his fingers.
If your child has been injured or killed from an electric shock, you may be entitled to recover damages from the party or parties responsible. Child-injury lawyer Jeffrey Killino is dedicated to helping children and families obtain the compensation they deserve.
Child Electric Shock Symptoms
It may be difficult or impossible for infants and toddlers to communicate or explain their symptoms when electric shock happens. Symptoms of child electric shock injuries that parents should be aware of include:
- Severe burns on hands, heels or head
- Burns to the mouth that are red in appearance
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
The most common electrical shock related injuries are burns. Electrical burns are very serious and should receive immediate medical attention, ideally from a local burn center. Burns are typically red or dark and charred in appearance. Other injuries can happen if forceful muscular contractions throw the child from the electrical source.
Child Electrocution and Shock Prevention
The best way to prevent electrical injuries is to cover all outlets, make sure all wires are properly insulated, tuck wires away from your child’s reach, and provide adult supervision whenever children are in an area with potential electrical hazards.
Many landlords have minimum electricity compliance safety standards, which may or may not include rules such as covering wall outlets with wall plates.
Make sure electrical devices are properly maintained.
Look out for underwater lights that are not working property, flicker or work intermittently. Know where all the electrical switches and circuit breakers are around your pool or any body of water. Do not swim during or after thunderstorms.
Use battery-operated appliances instead of cord-connected appliances in and around your pool.
Children are electrocuted or shocked by cords of all kinds. Parents need to be vigilant with toddlers around electrical appliances of all kinds, particularly cords that charge items. Chargers should never be left plugged into electrical outlets when not in use. If chargers or cords look worn, replace them. It’s not worth fire or shock to save money on a charge cord.
Electric Shock Treatment – What to Do
Parents should consult their healthcare provider if the child has any noticeable burn to the skin, numbness, tingling, or vision, hearing, or speech problems, no matter how mild. A doctor should also check for electric cord burns to the child’s mouth.
The Encyclopedia of Children’s Health advises the following: http://www.healthofchildren.com/E-F/Electric-Shock-Injuries.html
- When a severe electric shock injury happens at home, the main power should immediately be shut off.
- If that cannot be done, and current is still flowing through the child, stand on a dry, non-conducting surface such as a folded newspaper, flattened cardboard carton, or plastic or rubber mat and use a non-conducting object such as a wooden broomstick (never a damp or metallic object) to push the child away from the source of the current.
- The child and the source of the current must not be touched while the current is still flowing, otherwise the rescuer could be electrocuted.
- Call 911 immediately. If trained to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), do so while waiting for emergency help to arrive.
Treatment at the clinic or hospital depends on the severity of the burns and/or the nature of other injuries found. Minor burns are usually treated with topical antibiotic ointment and dressings. More severe burns may require surgery, such as a skin graft. Severe burns on the arms, legs, or hands may require surgery to remove damaged muscle or even amputation.
Sadly, Electric shocks cause death in 3–15 percent of cases. And neglect leading to electrocution or lethal electric shock can cause a wrongful death. The families of children who have died may be eligible to receive compensation, although no amount of money can help the pain that comes with losing a loved one.
Nationally-recognized child injury attorney Jeffrey Killino has handled a wide variety of electric shock cases. Our experienced attorneys, paralegals, and investigators share the goal of helping injured families win the compensation they need and the justice they deserve. If your child has been hurt or killed in a preventable accident caused by negligence or a defective product, call us today at 1-877-875-2927.