Lightning Safety

Survive Outdoors give you some basic facts on lightning strikes and storms as well as what to do if someone in your party has an indirect hit versus direct hit from lightning.

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Early recognition of approaching storms is crucial when going camping, hunting, fishing or hiking. All activities should be stopped when lighting is six miles away. A good safe distance from lightning is 10 miles.

Counting distance of Lightning

Flash to Bang method. You can count the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder and divide by 5. This will give you the distance in miles .

What to do if Lightning is near

How to reduce your risk of lightning strike

  1. Avoid high ground, water and solitary trees or objects. Avoid metallic objects.
  2. Search for valleys, ditches and low areas.
  3. Remove jewelry, rings and watches.
  4. Best to crouch down on the balls of your feet with your hands over your ears. You should be a minimum of twenty feet from others in your party preferably farther.
  5. Do not huddle together.
  6. If in an automobile which is relatively safe do not touch any metal.
  7. Avoid shelters as they are usually higher than other objects and often a solitary structure.

Facts about Lightning

Lightning is an electrical charge between clouds or between clouds and the ground. The discharge can take place between the same cloud or between the cloud and the ground.

  1. Most lightning strikes occur at he beginning or at the end of a storm
  2. Average lightning strike is 6 miles long
  3. Lightning can reach 50,000 degrees Farenheight. That is 4 times the sun’s surface
  4. A cloud to ground lightning can be 2-10 miles long.
  5. Voltage in a cloud strike is 100 million to one billion volts.
  6. Around the Earth there are around one hundred strikes per second.
  7. Number of storm related deaths on average last ten years United States
    1. Heat-103
    2. Flood-88
    3. Tornados- 68
    4. Hurricanes- 45
    5. Lightning- 41
    6. Winter- 35
  8. 20 % of all strikes that hit a person ends in death.
  9. 70% of all deaths occur in the afternoon
  10. Annually there are more than 10,000 forest fires due to lightning.
  11. A bolt from lightning is on average around 6-8 cm in width.

Etiology of Lightning injuries

Lightning strikes typically last around 1/1000 to 1/10 of a second. Lightning injuries are classified as the following: A direct strike, (which are rare), side splash, contact injury or ground current ( most common.) Most deaths are due to cardiac arrhythmia’s and cardiac arrest. Approximately 75% of survivors have some type of disability. This could be partial nervous system disorder, auditory or visual disturbance. The greatest number of deaths in the U.S. occur in Texas and Florida while the highest incidence occurs in Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, and New Mexico.

Burns are not uncommon and can be partial thickness or full thickness. Linear burns are common and occur as sweat is vaporized over the skin. Punctate burns or when they enter the body and when they exit the body.  A variety of eye injuries can occur from hyphema, to cataracts, scleral hemorrhage and optic nerve injury. Also not uncommon to have ruptured Tympanic membrane ruptures of the ear. Sensorineural deafness also occurs in a few lightning strikes.

Treatment in the Field of Lightning Injuries

  1. MYTH individuals struck by lightning do not hold a charge.
  2. Basic CPR guidelines are imperative. Airway, Breathing and Circulation.
  3. Inspect the skin for burns.
  4. Be aware in the field there is not much you can do except support and initiate CPR if pt has no heartbeat and not breathing. Transport ASAP, Transport ASAP.

Minor injuries with Lightning Strikes