Washington, D.C.With summer storms ahead, leading lightning researchers in the June 2002 Annals of Emergency Medicine publish the first consensus recommendations for lightning safety and lightning injury in an effort to dispel the myths surrounding the second largest storm killer in the United States.
On average, lightning causes more casualties annually in the U.S. than any other storm-related phenomenon except floods, according to the article. Although 90 percent of those injured survive, they often have lasting medical problems or disabilities. According to experts, many of these people are killed or injured by lightning because of misinformation and inappropriate behavior during a thunderstorm. For example, a common myth is that people struck by lightning carry a charge. This is not true, and it is safe to touch a person who has been stuck to provide medical treatment, according to the article.
"Avoiding lightning injury is an individuals personal responsibility, which is why the public needs to be familiar with and follow lightning safety rules," said Mary Ann Cooper, MD, an emergency physician with the University of Chicago in Illinois and a co-author of the article. "While there is no guarantee these guidelines will prevent all injuries, they constitute a summary of the safest practices based on the best research and experience currently available."
Although no place is absolutely safe from the threat of lightning, some places are safer than others. According to experts, these places include:
- Large structures with plumbing and electrical wiring (eg, houses, schools, office buildings).
- Fully enclosed metal vehicles (eg, cars, buses, trucks, enclosed farm vehicles). It is important to roll up windows and avoid contact with metal or conducting surfaces outside or inside the vehicle.
Just as important, experts suggest avoiding certain locations during a thunderstorm, such as:
Contact: Colleen Horn
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