If you stick your finger in an electrical socket, you could wind up looking like this guy.

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Many people, parents in particular, really wonder what would happen if someone -- possibly their child -- were to stick his or her finger in an electrical outlet. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety commission, each year approximately 4,000 people find themselves in the emergency room seeking treatment for injuries caused by accidents involving electrical outlets. About a third to one-half of these patients are children who decided to stick some kind of metal object (like a paper clip or spoon handle) or their finger into the outlet. This number may seem high, but these people are actually the lucky ones. There are hundreds of folks that never make it to the emergency room.

If you stick your finger in an electrical outlet, the current can maim or even kill you. The human body is an excellent conductor for electricity. Electricity is always looking for a quick and simple path to the ground. Because about 70 percent of a human body is made up of water, it's extremely easy for electricity to course through you in a matter of seconds. At a minimum, electric shock can cause:

  • Headache
  • Muscle fatigue or spasms
  • Temporary unconsciousness
  • Temporary breathing difficulty

Some of the more serious and possibly fatal side effects of electrical shock are:

  • Severe burns at point of contact and along the electricity's course through the body
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Brain damage
  • Respiratory arrest or failure
  • Cardiac arrest (heart attack)
  • Death

If someone nearby does stick fingers or some kind of metal object into an outlet and receives an electrical shock, DO NOT touch the person. If you touch him or her, the electricity can move from that person's body into yours, shocking you both in the process. You should quickly shove the victim away from the outlet using an object that doesn't conduct electricity. A broom handle or dry towel will work. Once contact has been broken, quickly check the victim's breathing and pulse, and look for burns. You should seek medical help immediately.