Lightning strikes may cause immediate injury or delayed problems that can take a day or two to appear. Dr. Bruce has advice on how to protect yourself.
Injuries from lightning are caused by:
- A direct hit or strike
- A "splash" where the lightning bounces off an object, then hits you
- Currents traveling through the ground
- A shock wave traveling through the air
About 10 to 30 percent of people die from lightning strikes, but most recover. And while some people may look lifeless after a direct hit, many wake up soon after, highlighting the importance of CPR and immediate transportation to help.
Immediate injuries include:
- Skin burns that may have the shape of flowers
- Loss of consciousness
- Cardiac arrest, but the heart will often start beating again on its own
A victim may look fine but have internal injuries, such as:
- Internal burns that harm organs
- Injuries in the ears or eyes
- Memory problems or dizzIness, which may last for years
Dr. Bruce's prevention advice:
- Sound travels slower than light, so when you see lightning, count the second until you hear thunder. If less than 30 seconds pass between light and sound, the lightning is close by, and you should seek shelter.
- Avoid wet and high areas.
- If you are near a lightning strike but feel fine, drink as many fluids as possible to prevent internal injuries.
- If you have symptoms after seven days, see a doctor.