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Old June 8th 05, 02:25 AM
K4YZ
 
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Default FYI: NOAA Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Got this from an NOAA mailing list I am a member of...

Since the summer months are upon us an activites like Field Day,
antenna maintenance, public service activities, etc are more prevelant.
Please be aware of this potential killer and BE SAFE!!

73

Steve Robeson, LPN
K4YZ

BEGIN QUOTE

Lightning Safety Awareness Week
June 19th-25th

The Nation will celebrate its fifth annual National Lightning Safety
Awareness Week, June 19-25, 2005.

Lightning is the number two direct weather killer of people in the U.S.
annually.

The National Weather Service office in Morristown would like to thank
all of the people who are helping to make this year's lightning safety
campaign a reality. Lightning Safety Week is held the last full week of
June each year.

Please visit the multimedia page at
http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/multimedia.htm to see some of the
highlights of last year's campaign, including public service
announcements http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/media/index.htm) with
PGA Tour golfer Rocco Mediate and Vijay Singh, and Soccer Star Siri
Mullinix and video clips with some of the other lightning experts who
took part in the press conference.

Here is the Lightning Awareness Week Schedule for this year.

Day Topic
Monday Lightning Overview
Tuesday The Science of Lightning
Wednesday Lightning Safety Outdoors
Thursday Lightning Safety Indoors
Friday Medical Aspects

We will be sending the following information out each day during the
week to highlight the days message. For more information on lightning
safety, visit the National Weather Service Lightning Safety page at
www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov . Again, thank you for helping to get
this important information out to the public.

Monday - Lightning-The Underrated Killer

Lightning-The Underrated Killer

In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground
lightning flashes each year. Lightning can be fascinating to watch, but
it is also extremely dangerous. During the past 30 years, lightning
killed an average of 67 people per year in the United States based on
documented cases.

This is more than the average of 65 deaths per year caused by tornadoes
and the average of 16 deaths per year caused by hurricanes. However,
because lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time, and
because lightning does not cause the mass destruction left in the wake
of tornadoes or hurricanes, lightning generally receives much less
attention than the more destructive weather-related killers.

While documented lightning injuries in the United States average about
300 per year, undocumented injuries caused by lightning are likely much
higher.

Lightning Safety Awareness: Education is Key

Few people really understand the dangers of lightning. Many people
don't act promptly to protect their lives, property and the lives of
others because they don't understand all the dangers associated with
thunderstorms and lightning.

The first step in solving this problem is to educate people so that
they become aware of the behavior that puts them at risk of being
struck by lightning, and to let them know what they can do to reduce
that risk. Coaches and other adults who make decisions affecting the
safety of children must understand the dangers of lightning.

Watch for Developing Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are most likely to develop on warm summer days and go
through various stages of growth, development and dissipation. On a
sunny day, as the sun heats the air, pockets of warmer air start to
rise in the atmosphere.

When this air reaches a certain level in the atmosphere, cumulus clouds
start to form. Continued heating can cause these clouds to grow
vertically upward in the atmosphere into "towering cumulus" clouds.
These towering cumulus may be one of the first indications of a
developing thunderstorm.

The Lightning Discharge: Don't Be a Part of It

During a thunderstorm, each flash of cloud-to-ground lightning is a
potential killer. The determining factor on whether a particular flash
could be deadly depends on whether a person is in the path of the
lightning discharge. In addition to the visible flash that travels
through the air, the current associated with the lightning discharge
travels along the ground.

Although some victims are struck directly by the main lightning stroke,
many victims are struck as the current moves in and along the ground.
While virtually all people take some protective actions during the most
dangerous part of thunderstorms, many leave themselves vulnerable to
being struck by lightning as thunderstorms approach, depart, or are
nearby.

An Approaching Thunderstorm: When to Seek Safe Shelter

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the rain area in a
thunderstorm. That's about the distance you can hear thunder. When a
storm is 10 miles away, it may even be difficult to tell a storm is
coming.

IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER, YOU ARE WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE. SEEK SAFE
SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!

The first stroke of lightning is just as deadly as the last. If the sky
looks threatening, take shelter before hearing thunder.

The 30-30 Rule

Use the 30-30 rule where visibilty is good and there is nothing
obstructing your view of the thunderstorm. When you see lightning,
count the time until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or
less, the thunderstorm is within 6 miles of you and is dangerous. Seek
shelter immediately.

The threat of lightning continues for much longer period than most
people realize. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder
before leaving shelter. Don't be fooled by sunshine or blue sky!

If it is cloudy or objects are obscuring your vision, get inside
immediately. It is always safer to take precautions than to wait.

Outdoor Activities: Minimize the Risk of Being Struck

Most lightning deaths and injuries in the United States occur during
the summer months when the combination of lightning and outdoor
summertime activities reaches a peak. During the summer, people take
advantage of the warm weather to enjoy a multitude of outdoor
recreational activities.

Unfortunately, those outdoor recreational activities can put them at
greater risk of being struck by lightning. People involved in
activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, bicycling, golfing,
jogging, walking, hiking, camping, or working out of doors all need to
take the appropriate actions in a timely manner when thunderstorms
approach.

Where organized sports activities take place, coaches, umpires,
referees, or camp counselors must protect the safety of the
participants by stopping the activities sooner, so that the
participants and spectators can get to a safe place before the
lightning threat becomes significant. To reduce the threat of death or
injury, those in charge of organized outdoor activities should develop
and follow to a plan to keep participants and spectators safe from
lightning.

Indoor Activities: Things to Avoid

Inside homes, people must also avoid activities which put their lives
at risk from a possible lightning strike. As with the outdoor
activities, these activities should be avoided before, during, and
after storms. In particular, people should stay away from windows and
doors and avoid contact with anything that conducts electricity. People
may also want to take certain actions well before the storm to protect
property within their homes, such as electronic equipment.

Helping a Lightning Strike Victim

If a person is struck by lightning, medical care may be needed
immediately to save the person's life. Cardiac arrest and
irregularities, burns, and nerve damage are common in cases where
people are struck by lightning. However, with proper treatment,
including CPR if necessary, most victims survive a lightning strike,
although the long-term effects on their lives and the lives of family
members can be devastating.

Summary

Lightning is a dangerous threat to people in the United States,
particularly those outside in the summer. With common sense, we can
greatly reduce the number of lightning deaths. When thunderstorms
threaten, get to a safe place, stay there longer than you think you
need to, stay away from windows and doors and avoid contact with
anything that conducts electricity.

Tuesday - Why do some clouds produce lightning and not others?

How Powerful is Lightning?

Each spark of lightning can reach over five miles in length, soar to
temperatures of approximately 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and contain
100 million electrical volts.

Lightning Is A Random, Chaotic And Dangerous Fact Of Nature

At any given moment, there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress
somewhere on the earth. This amounts to 16 million storms each year!
Scientists that study lightning have a better understanding today of
the process that produces lightning, but there is still more to learn
about the role of solar flares on the upper atmosphere, the earth's
electromagnetic field, and ice in storms.

We know the cloud conditions needed to produce lightning, but cannot
forecast the location or time of the next stroke of lightning. There
are lightning detection systems in the United States and they monitor
an average of 25 million strokes of lightning from the cloud to ground
every year!

Lightning has been seen in volcanic eruptions, extremely intense forest
fires, surface nuclear detonations, heavy snowstorms, and in large
hurricanes, however, it is most often seen in thunderstorms.

A thunderstorm forms in air that has three components: moisture,
instability and something such as a cold front to cause the air to
rise. Continued rising motions within the storm may build the cloud to
a height of 35,000 to 60,000 feet (6 to 10 miles) above sea level.
Temperatures higher in the atmosphere are colder; ice forms in the
higher parts of the cloud.

Ice In The Cloud Is Critical To The Lightning Process

Ice in a cloud seems to be a key element in the development of
lightning. Storms that fail to produce quantities of ice may also fail
to produce lightning. In a storm, the ice particles vary in size from
small ice crystals to larger hailstones, but in the rising and sinking
motions within the storm there are a lot of collisions between the
particles.

This causes a separation of electrical charges. Positively charged ice
crystals rise to the top of the thunderstorm, and negatively charged
ice particles and hailstones drop to the middle and lower parts of the
storm. Enormous charge differences (electrical differential) develops.

How Lightning Develops Between The Cloud And The Ground

A moving thunderstorm gathers another pool of positively charged
particles along the ground that travel with the storm. As the
differences in charges continue to increase, positively charged
particles rise up taller objects such as trees, houses, and telephone
poles.

Have you ever been under a storm and had your hair stand up? Yes, the
particles also can move up you! This is one of nature's warning signs
that says you are in the wrong place, and you may be a lightning
target!

The negatively charged area in the storm will send out a charge toward
the ground called a stepped leader. It is invisible to the human eye,
and moves in steps in less than a second toward the ground. When it
gets close to the ground, it is attracted by all these positively
charged objects, and a channel develops. You see the electrical
transfer in this channel as lightning. There may be several return
strokes of electricity within the established channel that you will see
as flickering lightning.

Thunder

The lightning channel heats rapidly to 50,000 degrees. The rapid
expansion of heated air causes the thunder. Since light travels faster
than sound in the atmosphere, the sound will be heard after the
lightning. If you see lightning and hear thunder at the same time, that
lightning is in your neighborhood!

Negative Lightning And Positive Lightning

Not all lightning forms in the negatively charged area low in the
thunderstorm cloud. Some lightning originates in the cirrus anvil at
the top of the thunderstorm. This area carries a large positive charge.
Lightning from this area is called positive lightning.

This type is particularly dangerous for several reasons. It frequently
strikes away from the rain core, either ahead or behind the
thunderstorm. It can strike as far as 5 or 10 miles from the storm, in
areas that most people do not consider to be a lightning risk area.

The other problem with positive lightning is it typically has a longer
duration, so fires are more easily ignited. Positive lightning usually
carries a high peak electrical current, which increases the lightning
risk to an individual.

For more on the science of lightning, see the NOAA National Severe
Storms Laboratory at http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/edu/ltg/

Wednesday - Lightning Safety Outdoors

Each year, about 400 children and adults in the U.S. are struck by
lightning while working outside, at sports events, on the beach,
mountain climbing, mowing the lawn or during other outdoor activities.

About 67 people are killed and several hundred more are left to cope
with permanent disabilities. Many of these tragedies can be avoided.
Finishing the game, getting a tan, or completing a work shift aren't
worth death or crippling injury.

=B7 All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. Lightning
kills more people each year than tornadoes.

=B7 Lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
Many deaths from lightning occur ahead of the storm because people try
and wait to the last minute before seeking shelter.

=B7 You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. If you can
hear thunder, lightning is close enough that it could strike your
location at any moment.

=B7 Lightning injuries can lead to permanent disabilities or death. On
average, 10% of strike victims die; 70% of survivors suffer serious
long term effects.

=B7 Look for dark cloud bases and increasing wind. Every flash of
lightning is dangerous, even the first. Head to safety before that
first flash. If you hear thunder, head to safety!

=B7 Blue Skies and Lightning. Lightning can travel sideways for up to 10
miles. Even when the sky looks blue and clear, be cautious. If you hear
thunder, take cover. At least 10% of lightning occurs without visible
clouds overhead in the sky.

The Single Most Dangerous Place

Outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning storm.
When lightning is seen or thunder is heard, or when dark clouds are
observed, quickly move indoors or into a hard-topped vehicle and remain
there until well after the lightning storm ends. Listen to forecasts
and warnings through NOAA Weather Radio or your local TV and radio
stations. If lightning is forecast, plan an alternate activity or know
where you can take cover quickly.

The U.S. lightning season is summer but lightning can strike year
round! The Fourth of July is historically one of the most deadly times
of the year for lightning. In summer, more people are outside, on the
beach, golf course, mountains or ball fields. Outdoor jobs such as
construction and agriculture, and outdoor chores such as lawn mowing or
house painting are at their peak, putting those involved in danger.

Safety Rules

1=2E Postpone activities promptly. Don't wait for rain. Many people take
shelter from the rain, but most people struck by lightning are not in
the rain! Go quickly inside a completely enclosed building, not a
carport, open garage or covered patio. If no enclosed building is
convenient, get inside a hard-topped all-metal vehicle. A cave is a
good option outside but move as far as possible from the cave entrance.

2=2E Be the lowest point. Lightning hits the tallest object. In the
mountains if you are above treeline, you ARE the highest object around.
Quickly get below treeline and get into a grove of small trees. Don't
be the second tallest object during a lightning storm! Crouch down if
you are in an exposed area.

3=2E Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of
lightning, or increasing wind, which may be signs of an approaching
thunderstorm.

4=2E Listen for the sound of thunder. If you can hear thunder, go to a
safe shelter immediately.

5=2E If you see or hear a thunderstorm coming or your hair stands on end,
immediately suspend your game or practice and instruct everyone to go
inside a sturdy building or car. Sturdy buildings are the safest place
to be. Avoid sheds, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, and bleachers.
If no sturdy building is nearby, a hard-top vehicle with windows closed
will offer some protection. The steel frame of the vehicle provides
some protection if you are not touching metal.

6=2E Listen to NOAA Weather Radio. Coaches and other leaders should
listen for a tone-alert feature during practice sessions and games.

7=2E If you can't get to a shelter, stay away from trees. If there is no
shelter, crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from a tree as
it is tall.

8=2E Avoid leaning against vehicles. Get off bicycles and motorcycles.

9=2E Get out of the water. It's a great conductor of electricity. Stay
off the beach and out of small boats or canoes. If caught in a boat,
crouch down in the center of the boat away from metal hardware.
Swimming, wading, snorkling and scuba diving are NOT safe. Lightning
can strike the water and travel some distance beneath and away from its
point of contact.Don't stand in puddles of water, even if wearing
rubber boots.

10. Avoid metal! Drop metal backpacks, stay away from clothes lines,
fences, exposed sheds and electrically conductive elevated objects.
Don't hold on to metal items such golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis
rackets or tools. Large metal objects can conduct lightning. Small
metal objects can cause burns.

11. Move away from a group of people. Stay several yards away from
other people. Don't share a bleacher bench or huddle in a group.

Lightning Safety on the Water

Before going boating, fishing,diving or enjoying other water sports or
going out for business, check the forecast. If severe weather is
predicted, stay home. If you must go out, take a radio and monitor
forecasts. Return to shore as soon as possible if a storm is predicted.
If you caught out in a storm, here's what do to:

=B7 Divers are safer going deep for the duration of the storm or as long
as possible. Lightning hits the surface and you are relatively safe if
you dive.

=B7 Get a lightning protection system for your boat or ship. See the
Univerisity of Florida link below for more information.

=B7 Stay in the center of the cabin if the boat is so designed. If no
enclosure is available, stay low. Don't be a "stand-up human" lightning
mast!

=B7 Keep arms and legs in the boat. Do not dangle them in the water.

=B7 Stop fishing, water skiing, swimming or other water activities when
there is lightning or even when weather conditions look threatening.
The first lightning strike can be a mile or more in front of an
approaching thunderstorm cloud.

=B7 Disconnect and do not use or touch the major electronic equipment,
including the radio, throughout the duration of the storm.

=B7 Lower, remove or tie down the radio antenna and other protruding
devices if they are not part of the lightning protection system.

=B7 To the degree possible, avoid making contact with any portion of the
boat connected to the lightning protection system. Never be in contact
with two components connected to the system at the same time.

Example: The gear levers and spotlight handle are both connected to the
system. Should you have a hand on both when lightning strikes, the
possibility of electrical current passing through your body from hand
to hand is great. The path of the electrical current would be directly
through your heart--a very deadly path!

=B7 It would be desirable to have individuals aboard who are competent
in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. Many individuals
struck by lightning or exposed to excessive electrical current can be
saved with prompt and proper artificial respiration and/or CPR. There
is no danger in touching persons after they have been struck by
lightning.

=B7 If a boat has been, or is suspected of having been, struck by
lightning, check out the electrical system and the compasses to insure
that no damage has occurred.

Here are some links on boating and lightning:

=B7 University of Florida: Boating and Lightning

=B7 Marine Lightning Protection Inc.

=B7 National Ag Safety Database
What to do if someone is struck by lightning:

=B7 Call for help. Call 9-1-1 or your local ambulance service. Get
medical attention as quickly as possible.

=B7 Give first aid. If the victim has stopped breathing, begin rescue
breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should
give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, address any other
injuries.

=B7 Check for burns in two places. The injured person has received an
electric shock and may be burned. Being struck by lightning can also
cause nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing or
eyesight. People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge that
can shock other people. You can examine them without risk.

Stay Informed About the Storm

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local media for the latest severe
thunderstorm WATCHES and WARNINGS. Severe thunderstorms are those
storms with winds in excess of 58 mph or hail larger than 3/4 inches in
diameter.

When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, a severe
thunderstorm WATCH is issued.

Weather Service personnel use information from weather radar,
satellite, lightning detection, spotters, and other sources to issue
severe thunderstorm WARNINGS for areas where severe weather is
imminent. Remember, however, that ALL thunderstorms produce deadly
lightning.

Thursday - Safe Shelters & Indoor Safety

What is a Safe Shelter?

A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from
lightning. In assessing the safety provided by a particular structure,
it is more important to consider what happens if the structure gets
struck by lightning, rather than whether the structure will be hit by
lightning.

For a shelter to provide protection from lightning, it must contain a
mechanism for conducting the electrical current from the point of
contact to the ground.

These mechanisms may be on the outside of the structure, may be
contained within the walls of the structure, or may be a combination of
the two. On the outside, lightning can travel along the outer shell of
the building or may follow metal gutters and downspouts to the ground.
Inside a structure, lightning can follow conductors such as the
electrical wiring, plumbing, and telephone lines to the ground.

Avoid Unsafe Shelters!

Unless specifically designed to be lightning safe, small structures do
little, if anything, to protect occupants from lightning. Many small
open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, parks, roadside picnic
areas, schoolyards and elsewhere are designed to protect people from
rain and sun, but not lightning.

A shelter that does not contain plumbing or wiring throughout, or some
other mechanism for grounding from the roof to ground is not safe.
Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds offer little or no protection from
lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.

How Lightning Enters a House or Building

There are three main ways lightning enters homes and buildings: (1) a
direct strike, (2) through wires or pipes that extend outside the
structure, and (3) through the ground. Regardless of the method of
entrance, once in a structure, the lightning can travel through the
electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems.
Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete
walls or flooring.

Stay Safe While Inside

Phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the
United States. Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and
electrical wires, particularly in rural areas.

Stay away from windows and doors as these can provide the path for a
direct strike to enter a home.

Do not lie on the concrete floor of a garage as it likely contains a
wire mesh.

In general, basements are a safe place to go during thunderstorms.
However, there are some things to keep in mind. Avoid contact with
concrete walls which may contain metal reinforcing bars. Avoid washers
and dryers since they not only have contacts with the plumbing and
electrical systems, but also contain an electrical path to the outside
through the dryer vent.

Remember Your Pets

You may want to consider the safety of your family pets during
thunderstorms. Dog houses are not lightning-safe. Dogs that are chained
to trees or chained to wire runners can easily fall victim to a
lightning strike.

Protect Your Personal Property

Lightning also causes significant damage to personal property each
year. In addition to direct strikes, lightning generates electrical
surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the
actual strike.

Typical surge protectors will NOT protect equipment from alightning
strike. To the extent possible, unplug any appliances or electronic
equipment from all conductors well before a thunderstorm threatens.
This includes not only the electrical system, but also the reception
system. If you plan to be away from your home when thunderstorms are
possible, be sure to unplug unneeded equipment before you leave.

Summary of Lightning Safety Tips for Inside the Home

1=2E Avoid contact with corded phones

2=2E Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to
unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.

3=2E Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a
shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.

4=2E Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.

5=2E Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete
walls.

Friday - Medical Aspects of Lightning

How Big A Problem Is This? Statistics

Lightning has been the second largest storm killer in the U.S. for the
last 40 years, exceeded only by floods. A lightning strike can result
in a cardiac arrest (heart stopping) at the time of the injury,
although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days
later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain
damage.

According to Storm Data, a National Weather Service publication, the
U=2ES. averages 67 reported lightning fatalities per year. Due to under
reporting, the figures are more realistically about 100 deaths per
year. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed,
leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.

ODDS OF BECOMING A LIGHTNING VICTIM

U=2ES. 2000 Census population 280,000,000
Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year (reported deaths
+ injuries) 1/700,000

Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year (estimated total
deaths + injuries) 1/240,000

Odds of being struck in your lifetime (Est. 80 years) 1/3000

Odds you will be affected by someone being struck (Ten people affected
for every one struck) 1/300
=20
Who Gets Injured

While about one third of all injuries occur during work, workers
compensation companies are often reluctant to acknowledge the injury or
pay related medical expenses. About another third of injuries occur
during recreational or sports activities. The last third occurs in
diverse situation, including injuries to those inside buildings.

How Do Lightning Injuries Affect People?

Lightning tends to be a nervous system injury and may affect the brain,
autonomic nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. When the
brain is affected, the person often has difficulty with short-term
memory, coding new information and accessing old information,
multitasking, distractibility, irritability and personality change.

"Patients have difficulty in all areas that require them to analyze
more items of information than they can handle simultaneously.

They present (appear) as slow because it takes longer for smaller than
normal chunks of information to be processed.

They present as distractible because they do not have the spare
capacity to monitor irrelevant stimuli at the same time as they are
attending to the relevant stimulus.

They present as forgetful because while they are concentrating on point
A, they do not have the processing space to think about point B
simultaneously.

They present as inattentive because when the amount of information that
they are given exceeds their capacities, they cannot take it all in."

Early on, survivors may complain of intense headaches, ringing in the
ears, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and other post-concussion types of
symptoms. Survivors may also experience difficulty sleeping, sometimes
sleeping excessively at first and then only two or three hours at a
time. A few may develop seizure-like activity several weeks to months
after the injury.

Personality Changes / Self-Isolation

Many lightning victims may suffer personality changes because of
frontal lobe damage and become quite irritable and easy to anger.
People who wake up after the injury often do not have the ability to
express what is wrong with them, may not recognize much, become
embarrassed when they cannot carry on a conversation, work at their
previous job, or do the activities that they used to handle.

As a result, many isolate themselves, withdrawing from church, friends,
family and other activities. Friends, family and co-workers who see the
same external person, may not understand why the survivor is so
different. Friends soon stop coming by or asking them to participate in
activities. Families who are not committed to each other break up.

Obviously, depression becomes a big problem for people who have changed
so much and lost so much. Suicide is something almost all severely
injured people have thought about at one time or another.

Occasionally, those who do not have access to medical care or who do
not understand what is happening may resort to alcohol and other drugs,
particularly those who have previously used these options. Family and
friends of the survivor must remain supportive even though it may
require an adjustment in their relationship with the survivor. An
injury such as this affects the entire family, not just to the person
hit.

Fatigue

Survivors often complain of becoming exhausted after only a few hours
of work. This may be because tasks they used to do automatically now
require intense concentration. Many return to work but find that they
cannot do all of the activities required at their job.

Medical Testing

There are two kinds of medical tests:

=B7 Anatomic tests take a simple picture (x-ray) or measurement (blood
count)

=B7 Functional tests show how something is working (PET,
neuropsychological testing)

Sometimes function can be ascribed to the anatomic tests but often it
cannot. The mental changes of a lightning survivor are functional (how
the brain works) changes, not anatomic. Anatomic tests such as a CT
scan and MRI are usually normal. More functional scans such as PET and
SPECT may show changes but are hard to obtain due to their relative
infrequency in medical centers.

To use an analogy: if an electric shock were sent through a computer,
the outside case would probably look OK (similar to a photo or x-rays
of the person), the computer boards on the inside would probably look
OK and not be fused nor melted (CT, MRI for the person), but when you
boot up the computer it would have difficulty accessing files, making
calculations, printing, etc.

This situation is similar in a person with brain injury who has
short-term memory problems, difficulty accessing and coding
information, difficulty organizing output, etc.

More useful is a functional test of how a person's brain is working: a
neurocognitive or neuropsychological testing. These tests are
administered by a qualified neuropsychologist familiar with the
literature in this area, not by a psychiatrist, and consist of a 6-8
hour battery of pen and paper tests including memory, IQ,
organizational ability, and other how the parts of the brain are
working kinds of tests. Survivors of lightning and electrical injury
usually have a characteristic pattern of deficits.

Delayed Problems

Another common, often delayed, problem for some survivors is pain, also
difficult to quantify and manage. The pain may not be from chronic
intense headaches but may be in the back (perhaps from compression and
disc injury from the intense muscle contractions which may throw a
person several yards at the time of the injury), or in an extremity.
Some may have nerve entrapment syndromes and a small number may
eventually develop Sympathetically Mediated Pain Syndrome.

Sometimes the functional tests ordered are testing the wrong thing. An
electromyogram (EMG) measures only the motor fibers, which are seldom
affected by lightning injury. Smaller pain carrying nerve fibers are
not tested by EMG so that a normal EMG means little when ordered for
someone with pain. Likewise, the standard EEG primarily measure surface
readings of the brain and misses seizure activity in several deeper
regions.

Decreased libido and impotence are often reported.

Help Exists - Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors,
International, Support Group

An organization of tremendous help to survivors, families, physicians
and other professionals is Lightning Strike and Electric Shock
Survivors, International (LSESSI), a support group formed in 1989 by a
lightning victim. LSESSI has printed materials, offers tremendous
support, networks survivors with others in their area, and provides an
annual meeting where survivors come together for support and lectures
from professionals who work with lightning and electrical survivors and
their families. LSESSI can be reached at 910-346-4708,
, or see their Website at
http://www.lightning-strike.org/, or at P.O. Box 1156, Jacksonville, NC
28541-1156.

Four Factors Necessary for Recovery

The four most important factors in overcoming disability from lightning
injury (or from any illness or major injury for that matter) a

=B7 Supportive family/friends network.

=B7 Becoming your own advocate and learning as much as you can about
this disability.

=B7 A physician willing to listen, read, learn and work with the
survivor and their family.

=B7 A sense of humor.

Prevention

Far more important than treating survivors is preventing lightning
injury. All of the people who helped make possible National Lightning
Safety Awareness Week hope it will help you and your family learn how
to avoid injury. Prevention is the KEY.
This factsheet courtesy Dr. Mary Ann Cooper- Associate Professor,
Departments of Emergency Medicine and Bioengineering University of
Illinois at Chicago


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