According to the National Weather Service, lightning is a major cause of storm related deaths in the U.S. A lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage.
According to the NWS Storm Data, over the last 30 years, the U.S. has averaged 54 reported lightning fatalities per year. Only about 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.
We often see patients who have been struck by lightning in the Via Christi Regional Burn Center, so we offer these tips to stay safe in the event of severe weather:
- Don’t swim or stay in small boats during an electrical storm.
- Seek shelter from storms, but never under a tree. Lightning will strike the tallest object.
- Look for a place on the ground that is lower than the surrounding area. Crawl into it and curl up as small as possible if unable to seek shelter.
- If on a golf course, stay in a golf cart if one is available. Do not swing metal golf clubs – they could act as a lightning rod.
- While inside a shelter, stay away from windows, open doors, and fireplaces.
- Avoid the use of electrical equipment at home and at work.
- Stay off the phone during the electrical storm.
- Avoid taking a shower or bath during an electrical storm. Avoid contact with plumbing fixtures.
- Have your home checked by a qualified electrician to be sure it complies with the proper grounding guidelines for the community. This could prevent personal injury and damage to appliances.