Thunder Bay

'No shock is a safe shock' says Electrical Safety Authority in new awareness campaign

Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority is warning people that "no shock is a safe shock" and is offering easy tips to make your home safer.

Electrical shocks can cause burns, and lasting problems such as numbness, tingling, even memory loss

The Ontario Electrical Safety Authority says approximately 60 per cent of people in Ontario have received an electrical shock. The authority is warning "no shock is a safe shock". (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority is warning people that "no shock is a safe shock."

According to the authority, every year in the province, nearly 110 kids under the age of 15 — more than half of them less than five years old — are taken to the emergency department for electrical injuries.

"Most of the kids are presenting with burns to the wrists and hands, and these injuries happen mostly when these kids, or even adults are placing things into electrical outlets, for example hair pins or anything that's a metal object, and they're making contact with that electrical circuit," says Dr. Joel Moody, the authority's director of safety risk, policy and innovation.

The burn is immediately apparent, but doctors are now also becoming more concerned about the long-term after-effects of the shock itself.

'Numbness, tingling, pins and needles'

"Electricity is always wanting to complete a circuit," he said. "The shock happens as the electricity travels through the body, trying to get back to its source."

Medical research being conducted at Sunnybrook Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children, both in Toronto, show these shocks can produce anxiety, chronic pain or memory loss.

"The numbness, the tingling, that pins and needles feeling can even persist up to six months after the injury first occurred," said Moody.

Dr. Joel Moody, Ontario Electrical Safety Authority director of safety risk, policy and innovation, says people can avoid electrical shocks in their home by installing tamper-resistant receptacles and throwing out frayed or damaged electrical cords. (Ontario Electrical Safety Authority)

"No shock is a safe shock, and they are all preventable," he said, offering these three tips: 

  • 1. Install tamper-resistant receptacles: These are the outlets that have the safety covers that cover the slots and "those are there to help prevent those little fingers or even objects from getting into the outlet."
  • 2. Replace missing or broken outlet cover plates: These are "designed to be a barrier from allowing fingers or objects from touching the wires that are inside the wall."
  • 3. Any broken or frayed cord on an appliance should be thrown out and replaced.

Studies suggest as many as 60 per cent of Ontarians have received an electrical shock.

Moody urges anyone receiving a shock, however mild, to seek medical attention, because not all of the injuries are visible "and therefore we want to make sure they are being followed by the appropriate medical care."