It’s Lightning Strike Awareness Week

June 26th, 2012 by Julie Ferguson

Here in New England, Lightning Strike Awareness Week kicked off with some drama. A Connecticut woman suffered second- and third-degree burns after being struck by lightning at a campground outside Norwich, the lift bridge between Maine and New Hampshire was closed for a few hours after direct lightning hit, and lightning was the likely suspect in a few house fires in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
On average, 54 people die from lightning strikes each year – that number of fatalities has been trending down in recent years (29 each in the past two years), the improvement credited partly to the massive public awareness and information campaigns. More than half of all fatalities involve recreational activities such as golfing and boating, but electrical storms are a very real hazard for workers, too. Some of the high risk workers include loggers, construction and building maintenance workers, lifeguards, farming and agricultural workers, lawn care workers, road crews, roofers, telecommunications and utility workers, plumbers and pipefitters, and heavy machinery/equipment operators. See NOAA’s Outdoor Safety tips and the eLCOSH Lightning Safety page.
It should be noted that in addition to lightning fatalities, hundreds more people suffer lightning strike-related injuries each year – about 80-90% of the people who are hit by lightning survive the ordeal. These survivors pose interesting case studies – many suffer from unusual and little understood medical effects that can clear up relatively quickly or linger for a lifetime. See Medical Aspects of Lightning and NASA’s fascinating Human Voltage page. This video also includes some interesting first-person accounts:

Lightning Safety Resources
National Lightning Safety Institute, which includes information on
Structural Lightning Safety
and Personal Lightning Safety
Lightning Safety Resources and Tool Kits from NOAA
The one in a million club you don’t want to join
Lightning Safety Guidelines
Lightning Strike and Electrical Shock Survivors

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