What to Do When Lightning Strikes

Getting struck by lightning is one of those things you think won’t happen to you. Cancer is also one of those things you think won’t happen to you, yet cancer is common. Between the two, you’re about 3,000 times more likely to get cancer,which makes getting struck by lightning seem extremely unlikely. But it actually isn’t all that uncommon.

While the earth is under constant attack, receiving more than a hundred lightning jolts every second, according to National Geographic, only one person for every 700,000 will become the victim of a lightning strike in a single year.

While 700,000 looks like a big number to be selected from, when compared to the 7.7 billion people in the world,11,000 people will be struck by lightning each year.

That’s not to mention the one in a mere 3,000 who will be struck in their lifetime.The odds that either you or someone around you is struck by lightning aren’t all that low, so it’s important to know what to do, especially since a lightning strike can cause a victim to suffer cardiac arrest due to the disruption in the heart’s electrical rhythm.

If you find yourself in a situation where someone around you has been struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. It is a life-or-death situation, so you must act quickly. Check the victim’s pulse and perform CPR if needed. Since lightning can strike the same place twice, move the victim, preferably to a shelter if possible.

Lightning strikes often cause superficial burns but may cause thicker ones where jewelry or other metals were in contact with the skin. In addition to cardiac arrest, victims may experience loss of hearing, damaged vision, and respiratory arrest as a result. While sound and visual impairments can be treated by a specialist,victims experiencing respiratory arrest may require ventilation.

Other symptoms of a lightning strike include chest pain, shortness of breath,headache, confusion, dizziness, muscle pain, and weakened pulse.

Following a lightning strike, life will prove more difficult than before. Not only do survivors deal with a number of medical issues, ranging from mild to severe,but they may also struggle with neurological and psychiatric conditions like amnesia and depression. Be patient with them as they heal and try to find their way back to their old lives. It could take years, and they may never settle into their old selves again.

To avoid getting struck by lightning, always seek shelter in a building or car when lightning is present. Despite the car’s metal seeming like a lightning magnet,the lightning will actually travel around the car, keeping you safe. However, trees attract lightning, so avoid them when possible. Also, avoid using a landline and making contact with plumbing pipes.

If no shelter is available, crouch with your head as low to the ground as possible without touching the ground. If lightning does strike, your feet should be the only contact point.

Lightning strikes can be permanently damaging, or fatal, so take precautions and always pay attention to your surroundings.

Written by: Leah Morton

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