Friday, June 26, 2009

Medical Aspects of Lightning Safety

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL
554 AM CDT FRI JUN 26 2009

...MEDICAL ASPECTS OF LIGHTNING...

IN THE UNITED STATES EACH YEAR, LIGHTNING KILLS AN AVERAGE OF 73
PEOPLE AND INJURES MORE THAN 300 PEOPLE. INJURIES CAN BE TRAGIC
AND EVEN MORE DEVASTATING TO THE FAMILY THAN THE DEATH OF A LOVED
ONE. IN ADDITION TO THE PHYSICAL PAIN AND MENTAL ANGUISH SUFFERED
BY THE VICTIM AND THE FAMILY, THE INCIDENT MAY RESULT IN THE LOSS OF
INCOME FOR THE FAMILY. OVER TIME, MEDICAL EXPENSES FOR TREATMENT
MAY DRAIN THE FAMILY'S ASSETS.

IF SOMEONE IS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THEY RECEIVE
THE APPROPRIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY. IF POSSIBLE, MOVE
THE VICTIM TO A SAFER PLACE. DO NOT LET THE RESCUERS BECOME
ADDITIONAL LIGHTNING VICTIMS. LIGHTNING CAN STRIKE IN THE SAME
SPOT TWICE. LIGHTNING STRIKE VICTIMS DO NOT CARRY AN ELECTRICAL
CHARGE AND ARE SAFE TO HANDLE. CALL 911 AND THEN CHECK TO SEE THAT
THE VICTIM IS BREATHING AND HAS A PULSE. CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE
VICTIM UNTIL HELP ARRIVES. CARDIAC ARREST IS THE IMMEDIATE CAUSE
OF DEATH IN LIGHTNING FATALITIES. IF NECESSARY, BEGIN CPR.
PHYSICALLY...ONLY A FEW LIGHTNING STRIKE VICTIMS SUFFER BURNS.
THESE LIGHTNING BURNS ARE USUALLY MINOR AND OCCUR WHEN OBJECTS NEXT
TO THE BODY, SUCH AS RINGS, NECKLACES, OR METAL COINS ARE HEATED BY
THE LIGHTNING. IN ADDITION, SWEAT VAPORIZED BY LIGHTNING CAN CAUSE
BURNS.

MENTALLY, LIGHTNING STRIKE VICTIMS MAY FACE CHALLENGES FOR THE REST
OF THEIR LIVES. THE PERSON MAY SUFFER FROM SHORT TERM MEMORY LOSS
AND MAY HAVE DIFFICULTY MENTALLY STORING NEW INFORMATION AND
ACCESSING OLD INFORMATION. VICTIMS MAY OFTEN FIND IT VERY DIFFICULT
TO CARRY OUT MORE THAN ONE TASK AT A TIME AND MAY BE EASILY
DISTRACTED. THEIR PERSONALITIES MAY CHANGE AND THEY MAY BECOME
EASILY IRRITATED. VICTIMS OFTEN COMPLAIN OF BEING EASILY FATIGUED
AND CAN BECOME EXHAUSTED AFTER A FEW HOURS OF WORK. THIS MAY BE
BECAUSE MENTAL TASKS THAT WERE AUTOMATIC NOW REQUIRE INTENSE
CONCENTRATION TO ACCOMPLISH. ALTHOUGH SOME VICTIMS MAY SLEEP
EXCESSIVELY AT FIRST, AFTER A FEW WEEKS, MAY FIND IT DIFFICULT TO
SLEEP MORE THAN 2 TO 3 HOURS AT A TIME.

ANOTHER COMMON LONG TERM PROBLEM FOR SURVIVORS IS PAIN. LIGHTNING
STRIKE VICTIMS MAY OFTEN HAVE IRREPARABLE NERVE DAMAGE. MANY
SURVIVORS COMPLAIN OF CHRONIC HEADACHES, SOME OF WHICH ARE INTENSE
AND DEBILITATING. IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAN WHILE MANY
LIGHTNING VICTIMS SURVIVE, THEIR LIVES ARE CHANGED FOREVER AND
THEIR DREAMS FOR THE FUTURE--AND THOSE OF THEIR FAMILIES--WILL NEVER
BE THE SAME. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON LIGHTNING SAFETY, GO TO
WWW.LIGHTNINGSAFETY.NOAA.GOV.

$$

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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