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Blowin' in the Wind, Issue #018 Lightning safety - May 1, 2005
May 03, 2005

Kid lightning safety

Teach your kid lightning safety while you learn. It's that time of year again.

Lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Even in the United States (where they are more common).

You ever get that feeling of your hair standing up on end? Like the sensation of the electric field coming from your tv screen when Trailer Park Boys is on (hold the back of your hand close to it without touching).

This ever happen in a thunderstorm? If it does, you're in trouble. Fall to your knees, keep your feet together and your head down but don't let it touch the ground. And do not lie flat.

If the lightning misses you but hits the ground nearby, you don't want the electrical energy to travel through the sensitive parts of your body. Cover your ears so your hearing is protected from nearby thunder.

Safety precautions

Stay away from water. It conducts. Same goes for metal (fences, wires, golf clubs etc.)

Keep out of high places, trees, rooftops, hills. They attract.

Avoid open spaces. They make you the most attractive target around.

Do not hang around near tall things such as small shelters, poles, other people or trees. I guess Benjamin Franklin didn't know.

Another lightning safety tip: Get to safety before a suspected violent storm starts. The lightning usually comes before the rain (even by several miles) so don't wait too long and get surprised. It can be deceiving, and may even kid lightning safety experts.

Remember the old trick of counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder clap to determine the distance to the bolt. Divide by 5 to get statue miles or 3 for kilometres.

So where do you go?

If you can find a metal casing that completely surrounds you, that would be best. A vehicle is a perfect example if there are no tornados.

If you are inside. Stay there. Get out of the bathroom, off the phone and away from all other electrical and plumbing units in the building.

If you can’t get to either, get down and away from dangerous items as described above.

If someone is hit...

It is safe for you to help the person. Use any appropriate first aid you know and call 911.

If he does survive, which is quite likely, there could be psychological problems afterwards. Loss of memory, sleeping problems, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and vertigo to name a few.

Physical injuries can include loss of sensation, burning tissue or feelings, and more serious things like loss of body parts.

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