Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Electric shock and burn symptoms

2-minute read

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if the person who has received an electric shock:

  • has lost consciousness, even for a second
  • is breathing very fast or very slow
  • has a heartbeat which is very fast, or very slow, or irregular.

Always take the person who has been shocked to the nearest emergency department for assessment.

The signs and symptoms of an electric shock depend on:

  • the type of current
  • how high the voltage is
  • how the electricity moved through the body
  • how long the person was in contact with the electricity
  • the person’s overall health.

If the shock is mild, it may cause only pain, a fright and a small burn. But if it is serious, it may cause:

Safety

If someone near you receives an electric shock, do not put yourself in danger:

  • look first, don’t touch – the person may still be in contact with the electricity, and if you touch them, you will receive an electric shock
  • switch off the electricity at the mains, remove fuses, turn off all powerpoints and unplug all cords before approaching the person
  • if that’s not possible, use material that does not conduct electricity, such as a dry wooden broom handle, to separate the person from the electricity source
  • take particular care if the victim is in contact with water, which carries electricity.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your electric shock or electric burn, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: August 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Electric shock - Better Health Channel

Always disconnect the power supply before trying to help a victim of electric shock.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Fire, electrical safety and children - NT.GOV.AU

Find out how to keep your child safe from electricity and fires in your home.

Read more on NT Health website

Burns: how to treat - myDr.com.au

A burn is an injury to the body's tissue resulting from heat, chemicals, electricity or sunlight. Read about first aid for burns.

Read more on myDr website

Burns (burn treatment; burn care) information | myVMC

Burns are commonly caused by heat and destroys the skin and surface layers. They require burn first aid treatment and often emergency department treatment.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Burn Injury Prevention and First Aid

Burns can be caused in many different ways including by hot liquid, touching hot objects, fire, chemicals, electricity, friction and even sunburn. These burns can occur anywhere, particularly in the home and workplace, and if they do happen it’s best that you and those closest to you are prepared and armed with the right information – the life you save could be your own.

Read more on ACI - Agency for Clinical Innovation website

Burns | National Centre for Farmer Health

There are many causes of burns on farms. These include burns from friction, heat, sun, chemicals, equipment and fuels. Read more...

Read more on National Centre for Farmer Health website

Burns and scalds - Better Health Channel

Immediate first aid for all burns is to hold the burn under cool running water for at least 20 minutes.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Burns prevention: children | Raising Children Network

This essential guide has tips for burns prevention, including keeping children away from fires, heat and hot surfaces inside and outside your home.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Burns and Scalds

Read more on Queensland Health website

Burns: Care Advice | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

Each year almost 1,000 children aged 0-16 years are treated for a burn injury in NSW

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo