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Electricity kills and injures thousands of workers each year. Most of these accidents happen because people don't look, don't think or just don't understand the shocking power of electricity.

Voltage, current and resistance are the basic terms used when talking about electricity. Voltage is the force that causes the current to flow. Current (amperage) refers to the amount of electricity that is flowing. Resistance denotes the restrictions that try to slow down or stop the flow.

Electrical shock can only occur when a part of the body completes a circuit between a conductor and another conductor or a grounding source.

Death or injury is not caused by the voltage; the damage is done by the amount of current that flows through the body when the contact is made. Of course, the higher the voltage, the greater the amount of current. Some people have survived shocks of several thousand volts, while others have been killed by voltages as low as 12.

The dry outer skin of the human body offers extremely high resistance to electrical flow. However, this resistance is reduced to almost zero when the skin is wet, especially if the skin is wet because of perspiration.

Electricity and proper grounding work together for safety. A ground is a conducting connection between an electrical circuit or equipment and the earth, or to some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.

If your body is sweaty or damp, an oversensitive ground within it is created, which easily causes electrical shock. One way to keep the body's resistance high is to keep it dry, particularly the hands and feet, which might make the contacts and be instrumental in completing the circuit. This can be accomplished by wear­ing rubber gloves, boots and rubbers.

Effects of electrical shock depend mainly on the total amount of current flow and the path of the current through the victim's body. To prevent electrical shock, which can cause several types of injuries, make sure that your body cannot become part of the electrical flow and the path of the current.

An important phase of electrical safety is knowing how to help an electrical shock victim. First, stop the current flowing from the circuit through the victim's body, if it hasn't already been done. Often, particular­ly in cases of low voltage shock, victims are unable to pull away from the source of current. If the victim is still in contact with the current, disconnect or de-energize the circuit, if possible. If this cannot be ac­complished, obtain a nonconductive item, such as dry clothing, dry rope or a dry stick, and remove the vic­tim from the source of the current.

Then call or send for help. Next, check to see if the victim's heart or breathing has stopped. Give the re­quired first aid until professional help arrives.


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