Emergency

Storm Safety: When Lightning Strikes

While lightning storms can occur anywhere at any time, more lightning strike casualties occur in specific locations and during certain seasons. Texas is among the top ten states for lightning strike injuries and fatalities in the country and is one of the top two states for work-related lightning strikes. Summer is a high time for lightning casualties, especially the month of July, and the large majority occur in the afternoon between 12 and 6 PM. Discover how you can stay safe during a storm and what you need to do if lightning strikes.

Safety During A Lightning Storm

When you see lightning or even hear thunder, you need to make your way to a safe location. Inside buildings or entirely enclosed vehicles are safe places you can stay during a storm. If you are unable to find shelter, avoid tall structures, such as trees and poles.

If you are in an open area, crouch down with your knees and feet together into a ball, tuck your head, and cover your ears with your hands. Because lightning can travel along the ground, this position allows you to stay low while touching as little of the ground as possible. Never lie down on the ground during a lightning storm. If you are with a group of people during a storm, separate from each other to reduce the number of injuries in case lightning strikes.

The best way to avoid lightning is to stay indoors, but even inside you can still be at risk. A third of lightning strike injuries happen indoors. During a lightning storm, avoid using connected electronic devices, such as corded phones and computers. Do not use any water source, such as a shower or sink, since lightning can easily travel through plumbing. Because electric currents can travel through the metal structures in concrete, avoid touching concrete walls or floors.

If Someone Gets Struck

If someone gets struck by lightning, the first step is to call 911 and request emergency medical assistance. Follow all directions provided by the operator. The next step is to move yourself and the victim to a safer location, preferably inside, unless the victim has major bleeding or broken bones.

While you wait for medical assistance, check if the victim is breathing and if his or her heart is beating by feeling for a pulse. If the victim is not breathing, start giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If there is no pulse, also give cardiac compressions. Continue giving CPR until emergency medical service providers arrive. Follow all safety precautions during a lightning storm. If someone you know gets stuck by lightning, call 911. CHI St. Luke’s Health emergency departments are prepared for any emergency. Find your nearest location so you know where to go when minutes matter.

Sources:
Health Tip: Stay Safe During a Lightning Storm
CDC – Lightning: First Aid Recommendations
CDC – Lightning: Lightning Safety Tips
CDC – Lightning: Victim Data

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