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CJEM. 2018 Jul;20(4):586-591. doi: 10.1017/cem.2017.49. Epub 2017 Jun 27.

Epidemiology of electrical and lightning-related injuries among Canadian children and youth, 1997-2010: A Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) study.

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*Dalhousie Medical School,Dalhousie University,Halifax,NS.
†Medical Informatics, Faculty of Medicine,Dalhousie University,Halifax,NS.
‡Department of Emergency Medicine,Dalhousie University,Halifax,NS.


IntroductionAlthough death due to electrical injury and lightning are rare in children, these injuries are often preventable. Twenty years ago, most injuries occurred at home, precipitated by oral contact with electrical cords, contact with wall sockets and faulty electrical equipment. We sought to assess the epidemiology of electrical injuries in children presenting to Emergency Departments (EDs) that participate in the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP).


This study is a retrospective review of electrical and lightning injury data from CHIRPP. The study population included children and youth aged 0-19 presenting to participating CHIRPP EDs from 1997-2010. Age, sex, year, setting, circumstance and disposition were extracted. Variables were tested using Fisher's exact test and simple linear regression.


The dataset included 1183 electrical injuries, with 84 (7%) resulting in hospitalization. Most events occurred at home in the 2-5 year age group and affected the hands. Since 1997 there has been a gradual decrease in the number of electrical injuries per year (p<0.01) and there is an annual surge in electrical injuries over the summer (p<0.01). Forty-six percent of injuries involved electrical outlets, 65% of injuries involved some sort of electrical equipment. Injuries due to lightning were rare (n=19). No deaths were recorded in the database.


Despite the decrease in the number of electrical injuries per year, a large portion of injuries still appear to be preventable. Further research should focus on effective injury prevention strategies.


CHIRPP; electrical injury; injury prevention; lightning; pediatric

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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