Emergency advice


  1. Break contact with electrical source.
  2. Do not touch them.
  3. Turn off the source or move the source away.
  4. Once contact is broken, perform primary survey.
  5. Call 999. 

What causes electric shock?

Currents used in the workplace and at home can cause serious injury. Incidents are generally due to faulty or loose switches, defective appliances or frayed flexes.

Electric shock can also be caused by handling an electric appliance with wet hands as water is a very effective conductor of electricity.

Signs and symptoms

Someone suffering from electric shock may have:

  • a burn
  • a cardiac arrest.

What to do

  1. Assess the situation.

    • Do not touch the casualty if they’re still in contact with the electrical source as you are at risk of electrocution.
  2. Turn off the source of electricity to break the contact between the electrical supply and the casualty.

  3. Alternatively, move the casualty away from the source. You may be able to stand on some dry insulating material (such as a plastic mat or wooden box) and use a broom handle or wooden pole to push the casualty's limb away from the source.

  4. If it’s not possible to break contact using a wooden object, loop some rope around the underneath of the casualty’s arms or ankles and pull them away from the electrical source.

    • Do not touch the casualty.
  5. Once you’re sure the contact has been broken between the casualty and the electrical source, perform a primary survey and treat any injuries.

  6. Call 999 or 112 for emergency help.

Related first aid advice

How to do the primary survey

Use the primary survey to quickly assess the situation and check the casualty for injuries or conditions that could be immediately life threatening. Find out what to do.

Workplace first aid rooms or areas

Discover what your workplace first aid room should include.

Severe burns in adults

If someone has a severe burn they may develop shock which is a life-threatening condition. They will need to get to emergency help as soon as possible. Find out what to look for and what to do.

St John Ambulance volunteers providing support