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Low-voltage electrocution

Crawling babies can get their fingers into all kinds of places. It’s possible for your baby to get an electric shock from household appliances or from electric sockets in your home. This can be very serious. If your baby has been electrocuted, they may become unresponsive or have an electrical burn.

A low voltage of 240 volts is found in the home. Most low-voltage and high-tension currents are AC (alternating current), which causes muscular spasms and the ‘locked-on’ phenomenon. This is where the casualty’s grasp is ‘locked’ on to the object which prevents them from letting go, so they may remain electrically charged.

Watch our video - what to do if your baby has been electrocuted

What to do – low-voltage electrocution

Start by performing the primary survey. Remember DR ABC – Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, Circulation:

1. Danger: if your baby is still in contact with the electrical current, turn off the source of electricity – switch off the current at the mains or remove the plug. Alternatively, use something non-metal to break the contact with electricity, such as a wooden broom handle. Once you are sure the contact with the electricity has been broken, check your baby’s response.

2. Response: see if your baby reacts by gently tapping or flicking the sole of their foot. If they do not respond to you, they may be unresponsive. You need to open their airway and check their breathing.

Unconscious baby - check for breathing

3. Airway: open the airway. Place a hand on the baby’s forehead and tilt the head back. Then lift the chin with your fingertip to open the airway.

4. Breathing: check breathing – look for chest movement, listen for sounds and try to feel their breath.

  • • If they are breathing normally, hold them in the recovery position – cradle the baby in your arms with their head tilted downwards.
  • • If they are not breathing normally – keep the airway open and pick out any visible obstructions from their mouth, but do not sweep the mouth with your finger looking for obstructions. Start CPR.

5. Circulation: if your baby is awake and alert, and breathing normally, check them for other injuries. Your baby may have received an electrical burn.

6. Call 999/112 for help, keep checking their breathing and response and prepare for CPR if they stop breathing normally.

Electrical burns

Burns may occur when electricity passes through the body. There may be surface damage along the point of contact, or at the points of entry and exit of the current. There may also be internal damage between the entry and exit points. If your baby has been electrocuted and is unresponsive, your priority is to safely break the contact with electricity, open their airway and check that they are breathing normally before treating the burn.

What to do – electrical burns

Call for helpRun the burn under cold waterPut cling film over the burn

1. Make it safe: make sure contact with the source of electricity is broken.

2. Call 999/112 for an ambulance

3. Cool: run the burn under cold water for at least 10 minutes (at the entry and exit points if both are present).

4. Remove clothing: gently remove your baby’s clothing around the burn unless it’s stuck to the burn

5. Protect from infection: when the burn is cooled, cover it with cling film. For burns on the hand and feet, you could use a clean plastic bag taped loosely in place

6. Treat for shock

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