Couple, son die in suspected electrocution incident: What to do when trying to help victims

If the circuit breaker does not detect the leakage current and does not trip, the electricity supply may still be on.
If the circuit breaker does not detect the leakage current and does not trip, the electricity supply may still be on.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An 80-year-old man, his wife, 66, and their son, 45, died following an incident in the elderly couple's flat in Lakeside on Thursday (Dec 10).

The elderly man reportedly fell in the shower, and he and his wife are believed to have been electrocuted when she rushed in to assist him.

Their son, who went to visit them, is understood to have been electrocuted too when he tried to revive them.

It is dangerous to touch someone who has been electrocuted, said experts.

Associate Professor See Kye Yak of the Nanyang Technological University's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering said the person who has been electrocuted would be carrying a high voltage.

"Anyone who is in physical contact with him directly without any insulation will get electrocuted too, especially if the victim's body is wet, which lowers its resistance to electricity."

One should use an insulating object, such as something wooden or plastic, to push the victim away from the contact point with the live electrical source, Prof See added.

He said: "If there are rubber shoes, the person who helps the victim should wear them to be protected from electrocution."

Meanwhile, Associate Professor Liang Yung Chii of the National University of Singapore's engineering faculty said that in instances of electric shock, the circuit breaker which detects the leakage current would usually trip and the electrical supply will be interrupted.

However, if the circuit breaker does not detect the leakage current and does not trip, the electricity supply may still be on.

Prof Liang said: "In this case, someone needs to switch off the main electrical supply by turning off the circuit breaker manually. After that, check the person's health situation, apply cardiopulmonary resuscitation if necessary and call an ambulance if needed."