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Electrical

current, person, heart and alternating

ELECTRICAL ACCIDENTS.—The maximum tension of an electric cur rent which a human being can endure is about 5oo volts. The alternating current as a general thing is more dangerous than the direct current, and fatalities have been reported where the individuals grasped two conductors in which the tension of the alternating current only slightly exceeded Too volts. Alternating currents produce a muscular spasm, so that it becomes difficult to release the conductors, whereas the powerful blow of the direct current throws the person away.

Strong electric currents momentarily inhibit respiration and make the heart beat slower ; if the breathing is suspended for any length of time, the heart also stops. The victim of a severe electric shock is usually rendered unconscious. This condition may last for several hours and may then be succeeded by a feeling of exhaustion, vertigo, headache, and an irritable and irregular pulse. Where the current enters the body it may cause swell ings, burns, or bleeding into the subcutaneous tissue ; or there may he formed the curious branching strix shown in Fig. 121, and the skin may be perforated. These branched markings are commonly seen following lightning burns. They have nothing to do with standing under trees, or the like.

In extending assistance to a person who has been shocked, it is well for the rescuer to exercise certain precautions in order that he himself may not be affected by the current. The wire or other conductor may be

removed with a dry stick or other non-conduct ing material. If this is not possible. the rescuer should insulate himself by standing on some non-conducting substance, by putting on rubber-gloves, or by wrapping the hands in some dry articles of thick clothing before pulling the injured individual away from the source of the electricity. The current may also be drawn off into the earth by throwing a metal chain or similar object over the live wire. If the injured person hangs suspended from a wire, care must be taken that lie is not hurt by falling. Where the body cannot be extricated from the tangle of wires, it maybe lifted in order to interrupt the current ; or the victim may be insulated by the placing of clothes, boards, or other non-conducting articles under those parts which come in contact with the earth.

If the injured person is unconscious he should be undressed, a folded coat placed under his shoulders, the tongue drawn forward, and attempts made to bring on voluntary respirations by tickling the nose and pharynx. If this is unsuccessful, ARTIFICIAL REsput.yriox (which see) must be resorted to, and the heart stimulated by administering hot tea or coffee.