Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer is the season for sudden, often violent, storms.

With those storms comes lightning.

This month, instead of energy-saving tips, we’re presenting life-saving tips.

The National Weather Service estimates that 58 people are killed a year by lightning and another 300 are injured.

If you are outdoors during a thunderstorm and can’t take shelter:
  • Find a car, preferably one with a solid roof, which will give you more support than the fabric on a convertible. Don’t touch anything that can conduct electricity: the radio, the steering wheel and ignition, the shifter.
  • Stay away from water.
  • Stay away from trees, power lines and light or flag poles.
  • Don’t head for high ground or open spaces. If you are caught in the open, lie down or squat with your head between your knees to make yourself smaller.
  • Don’t stand near other people. If you are with others, put at least 20 feet between each person.

If you are indoors:
  • Stay off the phone and away from lines. The leading cause of indoor lightning injuries is being on the phone during a storm.
  • Stay away from electrical wires and outlets.
  • Stay away from TVs and stop playing video games.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics before a storm nears. And, by the way, a surge protector won’t save anything from a lightning strike, so unplug it too.
  • Stay away from water and pipes, including sinks, baths and faucets. A storm is not the time to wash dishes, shower or take a bath.
  • Don’t do the laundry either. Not only are you in contact with plumbing and electrical, but lightning can follow the path through the dryer vent.
  • Beware of hidden metal: Avoid your garage because the floor is probably concrete poured over a wire mesh.
  • Basements are usually safe, but stay away from the walls, which may have been constructed with rebar.
  • Bring pets inside, even if they have a dog house.

If someone is struck by lightning:
  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Assess the situation. How many victims are there? Is the storm over? Is it safe to administer first aid? Do you need to move the victim?
  • Check for breathing and heartbeat. Lightning strikes often cause cardiac arrest. Check for a pulse in the victim's neck or behind the victim's knee.
  • Administer CPR if the victim isn’t breathing and has no heartbeat. To administer: give the victim two rescue breaths followed by 30 fast chest compressions in 30 seconds. Continue until help arrives.
  • Check for other injuries. Lightning can also cause burns, shock, brain injury, muscular and skeletal damage or broken bones.

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