Electrical burns occur when current flows from an electrical outlet, cord or appliance and passes through your body. The electricity can burn the skin – sometimes very deeply – and may also cause internal damage. How quickly you heal depends on the severity of the burns and injuries. In case of an emergency, it’s important to know the signs of a burn, and how to prevent them and how to care for these serious injuries.

To prevent electrical burns:

  • Never poke foreign objects into an electrical plug. Cover unused electrical outlets with childproof plug covers, available in hardware stores and the baby section of department stores.
  • Do not use electric appliances near standing or running water.
  • Do not stick forks or knives into toasters or other plugged-in appliances.
  • Repair or replace any frayed or worn electrical cords. Teach children NEVER to suck or chew on these cords.

Signs and Symptoms

There are three degrees of severity, each with distinctive symptoms:

First Degree
Are mild and injure only the outer layer of skin. The skin becomes red, but turns white when touched. The area may also be painful to the touch.
Second Degree
Are deeper, more severe and very painful. Blisters may form on the burned area. This type of burn takes about two weeks to heal.
Third Degree
Are the deepest and most serious kind. The skin becomes white and leathery, but it does not feel very tender when touched. Serious burns may also be accompanied by headache, fever, and dizziness.


Always call your doctor when you get an electrical burn. If it is determined that the burn is small, you may be able to take care of it at home; but if the burn is large or you received a serious electric shock, you should go to the hospital right away. Most importantly, do not drive yourself.

How to treat a burn:

  • Soak the burned skin in cold water for about 10 minutes.
  • Gently wash the burn with warm, soapy water. Pat it dry with a clean towel, and cover it with a clean, dry bandage.
  • You will need to clean the burn and put on a new bandage once a day. Be sure that everything that touches the burn is clean. Only use burn medicine prescribed by your doctor.
  • If the burn is on your arm or leg, keep it raised or propped up for the first 24 hours to help reduce swelling.
  • You may use aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. It’s also important to drink plenty of water or juice.
  • Do not bump or overuse the burned area.

For mouth burns (often suffered by children):

  • Feed the child bland, soft, cold foods such as baby foods, soft cooked eggs, cooked cereal, ice cream and yogurt. Give the child lots of liquids such as water, milk and fruit juices.
  • Brush the child’s teeth 3 or 4 times a day. Use a soft toothbrush, with or without toothpaste.

Call your doctor if:

  • You develop increasing pain and redness around the burn.
  • A bad-smelling drainage comes from the burn.
  • You develop a high temperature.

These are signs of infection and you may need professional medical attention.

Seek care immediately if:

You have swelling, numbness or tingling below a burn on your arm or leg. This is a sign of serious injury. Seek immediate treatment at an emergency room.

At Lamar Electric Cooperative, we want you and your family to stay safe from electrical dangers. It could be the difference between life and death.