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Lightning Safety

Lightning is a very real danger in this country, and despite the general public knowing that it is dangerous, we don’t really seem to grasp just how dangerous it is.

If you are near a person that has been struck by lightning, immediately activate the emergency services. If the person is unconscious and not breathing, start CPR, and an emergency call taker at the ER24 084 124 dispatch centre will talk you through the steps if you do not know how to do CPR. It is essential that CPR is started promptly, as the electrical shock may interfere with the electrical current of the heart, causing it to stop beating properly.

Severe electrical shocks, like lightning strikes to the body affect almost every organ and tissue, and may cause extensive damage. Some of the after effects of a lightning strike includes, cardiac and pulmonary arrest (no pulse and no breathing), usually temporary paralysis, temporary deafness, and minor to severe burns.

All patients that are affected by lightning strikes need to be further observed at an appropriate medical facility.

With our beautiful late afternoon thunderstorms, it is almost a guarantee that they will be accompanied by beautiful lightning. Thunder and lightning usually start some time before it starts to rain, so don’t wait until the rain starts before you take action and get to an area of safety.

Make sure that you are indoors, with all doors and windows closed. Even though it is a beautiful show to watch, do not sit near the windows or doors, stay at least 2 meters away. Also, unplug all electronics, as lightning can strike power cables that are outside your home, and can travel into the electronic equipment via electricity cables. Not only is there a danger of you being shocked if you are near the equipment when the lightning strikes, it may also become an expensive operation having to replace lightning damaged property.

If you are unable to make it into a safe building, get into a vehicle, making sure the windows are shut.

In the event that you are out in an open field and are unable to get to another area of safety, lie down or crouch on the ground until the storm has passed. Also, if you are playing any form of sport outdoors, insist that your friends accompany you indoors. Do not stand under canopy’s, porches, picnic shelters or trees as they do not provide much protection from direct lightning strikes or an electrical “splash” that may come from another object that has been hit. At all times, indoors or out, avoid water (lakes, dams, river’s, water faucets, showers, baths) as water is a really good conductor of electricity!

A general good rule of thumb is to immediately make your way to safety when you hear the thunder and see the lightning.