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Lightning Strike (cont.)

Lightning Strike Prevention

The following tips may help a person avoid being struck by lightning. Lightning may occur well in front of or behind a thunderstorm.

  • Avoid being outside in open spaces during thunderstorms. If you hear thunder, you are in range for a lightning strike. You need to seek shelter immediately if you are outside. Lightning can travel 10-12 miles ahead of a storm and seem to come out of a clear blue sky.
  • Take cover from storms, avoiding the highest elevation areas and tall objects.
  • Do not carry or hold tall metal objects during thunderstorms. Drop any golf clubs, fishing poles, or baseball bats. Remove metal objects such as a baseball helmet.
  • If lightning has struck the immediate area, remember that lightning can strike the same place twice.
  • If you cannot find shelter, crouch down in a catcher's stance. Put your hands on your knees or place them over your ears to protect against hearing damage from thunder. If other people are with you, stay 15 feet apart.
  • A fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car or school bus can be a good shelter. Close all windows and do not touch anything metal connected to the vehicle. A golf cart is not a suitable shelter. Heavy equipment operators may stay inside the machine's closed canopy, but do not step out to seek shelter.
  • Even if you are inside a building, close all windows and stay away from them. Do not use the land-line telephone or electrical appliances including computers. Lightning may strike outside lines and travel inside.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after the last observed lightning strike or thunder before you venture outside your sheltered area.
  • The simple safety slogan of the National Lightning Safety Institute is this: If you can see it (lightning), flee it (take shelter). If you can hear it (thunder), clear it (stop your activities).

REFERENCES:

National Weather Service. Summary of Natural Hazard Statistics for 2011 in the United States.

MedscapeReference.com. Lightning Injuries.

Previous contributing authors and editors: Coauthor(s): Sandra Wendel, Medical Writer, eMedicine.com, Inc. Editors: Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM, Research Director, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD, Senior Pharmacy Editor, eMedicine; Richard Harrigan, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Temple University Hospital, Temple University School of Medicine.


Last Editorial Review: 8/8/2012

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