LIGHTNING - THE FACTS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW!!
The Power of Lightning...
A bolt of Lightning can travel at 100,000 MPH.
The extreme heat of Lightning can actually melt sand into glass.
Lightning can reach a temperature of 28,000 degrees Centigrade (50,432 degrees Fahrenheit)
Lightning strikes The Earth approx. 100 times every second, most commonly in Florida, USA.
One Lightning bolt can hold enough electricity to power 10 million homes for 1 month!
In the UK a 'thunderstorm day' may produce up to 10,000 ground strikes although the 24 July 1994 was remarkable in that it produced 85,000 ground strikes.
Lightning is one of the leading weather-related causes of death and injury in the United States.
Most people do not realize that they can be struck by lightning even when the center of a thunderstorm is 10 miles (16 kilometers) away and there are blue skies overhead.
Lightning Is the number 2 Weather Killer In The U.S.
Lightning kills more people than Hurricanes and Tornadoes combined.
Lightning is the number 1 Weather Killer in Florida
Killing more people than all other weather sources Combined.
In the whole of the U.S the State of Florida holds the record in Lightning Deaths and injuries.
Lightning injures approx. 1,000 People In The U.S. Each Year!
100 people are killed by Lightning every year in the USA.
Around 30-60 people are struck by lightning each year in the UK out of these, 3 are likely to be killed.
In the UK The worst year in recent decades was 1982 when 14 people were killed.
Since 1937 the first years without lightning fatalities in the UK were 2000 and 2001.
There are around 300,000 ground strikes by lightning every year in Britain.
On average, this means that someone is struck once every 6,000 strikes in the UK.
With someone being killed every 100,000 strikes.
3,696 deaths were recorded in the U.S. from Lightning or it was cited as the cause of cardiac arrest between 1959 and 2003.
Lightning has been recorded on death certificates, as cause of death in England and Wales since 1852.
ONE SURVIVOR'S STORY...
About 400 people survive lightning strikes in the U.S. each year...
Roy Sullivan, from Virginia, USA, was one of them...
He worked as a Forest Ranger and he holds the Guinness World Record for surviving the most Lightning strikes.
He endured 7 seperate hits in 35 years!!
In 1942, the first lightning strike shot through Sullivan's leg, knocking his big toenail off.
In 1969, a second strike burned off his eyebrows and knocked him unconscious.
In 1970, another strike left his shoulder burnt.
In 1972 his hair was set on fire and he had to throw a bucket of water over his head to cool off.
On August 7, 1973, another bolt ripped through his hat, hit him on the head and set his hair on fire again,threw him out of his truck and knocked his left shoe off.
On June 5, 1976, a sixth strike left him with an injured ankle.
On June 25th, 1977, the last strike to hit him led to him being admitted to hospital with chest and stomach burns.
His wife was also hit once, when a sudden storm welled up as she and her husband were hanging out the washing on the clothesline in their back garden!
SURVIVOURS AND SYMTOMS...
Lightning inflicts severe life-long debilitating injuries on many more people than it kills!
Injuries range from severe burns and permanent brain damage to memory loss and personality change.
Approx. 70% of Lightning strike victims suffer serious long-term effects.
Long-term Lightning Symptoms Are mainly Neurological and most are difficult to diagnose.
Although it varies from case to case the more common symptoms recorded include Memory Deficit, Sleep Disturbance,Dizziness, And Chronic Pain.
Lightning Survivors sometimes have difficulty processing information, become easily
distracted, and may even suffer from changes to their personality.
These symptoms do not always manifest straight away and may show themselves months after the Lightning Strike.
THE ODDS OF YOU BEING STRUCK BY LIGHTNING...
If you can hear thunder, you are within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of a storm and are at risk of being struck by lightning.
In England and Wales, between 1852 and 1999, approx 5 people out of 6, who were killed by lightning were male.
The figures For the U.S.A are similar.
This is most likely to reflect the fact that more men than woman are employed in an outdoor environment.
Positive lightning is particularly dangerous, because it frequently strikes away from the rain core, either ahead or behind the thunderstorm.
It can strike as far as 5 or 10 miles (8 or 16 kilometers) from the storm, in areas that most people do not consider to be a lightning-risk area.
Most lightning deaths and injuries in the U.S.A occur during the summer months, when the combination of lightning and outdoor activities reaches a peak.
People involved in activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, cycling, golfing, jogging, walking, hiking, camping, or working outdoors all need to take the appropriate actions quickly when thunderstorms approach or run the risk of being struck.
The odds of anyone being hit by Lightning in any given Year In The U.S. Is About 280,000 To 1.
If you live in area of the U.S which is not so prone to lightning strikes, have average outdoor activities and follow the basic rules for Lightning Strike safety your chances of being hit are approx. 3,000 To 1 over your lifetime, with about 300 To One 1 Of Being seriously affected by a family member or friend being a Lightning Survivor.
In Florida, the risk is closer to 80.
Analysis Data from the U.K indicates that the yearly average number of fatalities due to Lightning strike in England and Wales has fallen from 19 for the period 1852 to 1899 to 12 for the period from 1900 to 1949, to 5 for the period 1950 to 1999.
Despite the polutaion increasing 3-fold in that time period.
The reason for is is prosumed to be because there are now fewer people working out of doors, especially in Farming.
There is move emphasis placed on worker's safety; Construction and Farm Workers now drive vehicles with enclosed cabs. Electricity Pylon Repair Workers are now warned of any approaching Thunderstorms.
There is an increased awareness of the dangers of lightning and warnings are more accurate and readily available for fell-walkers and mountain climbers etc.
Also more people have knowledge of resuscitation methods, ambulances are better equipped and usually reach someone struck by lightning very quickly..
WHERE LIGHTNING STRIKES...
Lightning does not just occur during ThunderStorms.
Volcanic eruptions, Extremely Intense Forest Fires, Surface Nuclear Detonations, Heavy Snowstorms, and Large Hurricanes, are other places in which Lightning occurs.
Lightning can strike a person directly when out in the open or indirectly from a side flash from a nearby tree.
In addition to the visible flash that travels through the air, the current associated with the lightning discharge travels along the ground.
Although some victims are struck directly by the main lightning stroke, many victims are struck as the current moves in and along the ground.
When Lightning strikes a house the current sometimes passes through metal pipes and electrical wiring.
If this happens anyone inside who touches a radiator, light switch or a telephone when the house is struck will more than likely receive an electrical shock.
During a thunderstorm, each flash of cloud to ground lightning is a potential killer.
The determining factor of whether a particular flash is deadly depends only on whether anybody is in the path of the lightning discharge.
The Fourth of July is one of the most deadly times of the year for lightning in the U.S.
Lightning can and often does strike in the same place twice.
Tall buildings and monuments are frequently hit by lightning.
LIGHTNING STRIKES TREE .... UP CLOSE
Why you should NEVER shelter under a tree during a storm!
HOW TO STAY SAFE ...
Facts & Tips that may save your life.
Fortunately most people survive a lightning strike...While the chances of being struck and killed by lightning in Britain are small, you can improve your chances of not being struck in the first place by following some simple precautions during a thunderstorm:
1) STAY OUT OF WATER: Swimming is particularly dangerous, as not only do swimmers protrude from the water, presenting a potential channel for electrical discharge, but also because water is a good conductor of electricity.
2) Use the 30-30 rule, when visibility is good and there is nothing obstructing your view of the thunderstorm:
When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder.
If that time is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is within six miles (ten kilometers) of you and is dangerous.
SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.
3) The threat of lightning CONTINUES for a much longer period than most people realize.
WAIT at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before leaving shelter.
4) DO NOT be fooled by sunshine or blue sky!
5) A shelter that DOES NOT contain plumbing or wiring throughout or some other mechanism for grounding from the roof to ground is not safe!!
6) Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds offer little or no protection from lightning and should be AVOIDED during thunderstorms.
7) An umbrella CAN increase your chances of being struck by lightning if it makes you the tallest object in the area.
8) ALWAYS AVOID being the highest object anywhere or taking shelter near or under the highest object, including tall trees.
9) AVOID being near a lightning rod or standing near metal objects such as a fence or underground pipes.
10) AVOID CONTACT with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so WELL BEFORE the storm arrives.
11) AVOID contact with plumbing.
DO NOT wash your hands.
DO NOT take a Bath or Shower.
DO NOT wash dishes.
DO NOT do the laundry.
12) A motor car with a metal top CAN offer you some protection,but REMEMBER to keep your hands from the metal sides.
13) Rubber shoes WILL NOT give you very much protection from lightning.
USING THE PHONE IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF INDOOR LIGHTNING STRIKES IN THE UNITED STATES..
Lightning CAN travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas.
14) DO NOT lie on the concrete floor of a garage as it likely contains a wire mesh.
15) In general, basements are a SAFE place to go during thunderstorms.
However, AVOID contact with concrete walls, which may contain metal reinforcing bars.
16) AVOID washers and dryers, since they not only have contacts with the plumbing and electrical systems but also contain an electrical path to the outside through the dryer vent.
17) AVOID wide, open spaces or exposed hilltops and don't shelter beneath tall or isolated trees.
18) SEEK SHELTER inside a large building or a motor vehicle.
19) CHECK and take heed of weather forecasts of thunderstorms when planning a day walking in the hills, sailing and playing golf.
20) IF you are swimming, windsurfing or sailing, GET TO THE SHORE as quickly as possible.
21) MOVE AWAY from wide, open beaches and SEEK SHELTER inside a large building or motor vehicle.
22) IF caught out in the open during a thunderstorm, DROP any umbrellas, fishing rods, golf clubs and other large metal objects, you are carrying at the time.
23) KEEP AWAY from metal objects such as motorcycles, golf carts, cycles, wire fences and rails.
24) If caught out in the open with no shelter nearby, MOVE to a place of lower elevation such as a hollow or dry ditch. Crouch down (to lower your height) with both feet close together.
25) DO NOT place your feet wide apart or lie flat on the ground as this will increase the difference in voltage across your body, increasing the electrical charge you may receive from radial ground currents, if lightning strikes the ground nearby.
Tuck your head in and place your hands on your knees.
26) IF inside a motor vehicle stay there during the thunderstorm. It will protect you as long as you DO NOT touch the metal of the car body.
A lightning strike WILL normally be safely conducted over the metal bodywork of the vehicle before earthing to the ground over the wet tyres, these maybe damaged slightly as a result.
27) When indoors, kEEP AWAY from windows, AVOID touching metal pipes or radiators.
IF lightning strikes a television aerial, the cable may conduct the current into the building where it can jump to other wiring or metal piping circuits.
DO NOT USE A TELEPHONE EXCEPT IN AN EMERGENCY.
28) Inside homes, people must also AVOID activities which put their lives at risk from a possible lightning strike.
As with the outdoor activities, these activities should be avoided before, during, and after storms.
In particular, people should STAY AWAY from windows and doors and avoid contact with anything that conducts electricity, including landline telephones.
Most people hurt by lightning while inside their homes ARE talking on the telephone at the time.
HOW TO CARE FOR A VICTIM OF LIGHTNING STRIKE...
It is a MYTH that Victims of lightning retain the charge and are "electrified"...
IT IS SAFE TO HELP THEM, and you should do so quickly...As there are different types of lightning injuries, and some are more life-threatening than others.
FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO HELP THEM RECOVER:
STEP 1: Call The Emergancy Services... Even if the victim only appears stunned, as they may have burns or other injuries.
STEP 2: Check for breathing and a pulse if the victim is unconscious.
STEP 3: Give mouth-to-mouth if the victim has a pulse but is not breathing.
If there is no pulse, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
STEP 4: Look for burns.
If the victim is wet - skin burns are more likely.
There may also be a burn where the current entered the body and another where it exited.
Examine toes, fingers and skin next to metal buckles or jewelry.
Cover electrical burns with a dry, sterile dressing.
DO NOT cool the burns.
STEP 5: Assess other injuries.
(When the skin is dry or the victim is grounded, the electrical current travels deeper into the body.)
There may be broken bones or injuries to muscles and nerves.
STEP 6: Move the victim to a safe place if there doesn't appear to be a spinal injury.
As Lightning CAN strike the same place twice.
sTEP 7: Cover the victim with a jacket to keep them from getting chilled until emergency personnel arrive.
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Last updated on June 13, 2011
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