Factors that Cause Electrical Shocks

What Causes Shocks & The Effect Of Shocks On the Body

What Causes Shocks

Electricity travels in closed circuits, normally through a conductor. But sometimes a person’s
body — an efficient conductor of electricity — mistakenly becomes part of the electric circuit.
This can cause an electrical shock. Shocks occur when a person’s body completes the current
path with:

  • both wires of an electric circuit
  • one wire of an energized circuit and the ground;
  • a metal part that accidentally becomes energized due, for example, to a break in its insulation; or
  • another “conductor” that is carrying a current.

Shocks Effect On The Body

An electric shock can result in anything from a slight tingling sensation to immediate cardiac
arrest. The severity depends on the following:

  • the amount of current flowing through the body;
  • the current’s path through the body;
  • the length of time the body remains in the circuit; and
  • the current’s frequency.

A severe shock can cause considerably more damage than meets the eye. A victim may suffer
internal hemorrhages and destruction of tissues, nerves, and muscles that aren’t readily visible.
Renal damage also can occur. If you or a coworker receives a shock, seek emergency medical
help immediately.

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