When lightning strikes: Speedy reaction critical for victim's survival

When lightning strikes: Speedy reaction critical for victim's survival

Credit: Courtesy KENS 5 viewer

Loud claps thunder and intense flashes on lightning beckoned KENS 5 viewers to grab their cameras and catch photos of spectacular storm on Monday night, May 7, 2012.

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by Joe Conger / KENS 5

kvue.com

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 5:22 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 30 at 5:22 PM

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -– The odds of getting struck by lightning are better than winning the Texas Lottery -- especially after a storm like Monday night.

Just ask three construction workers in Austin who were hospitalized after being blown out of their shoes and socks by a lightning strike at a job site.

“It can stop your heart. It can affect your heart, stop it cold. It can give you brain injuries or other neurological problems. And those can persist. And a third thing, lightning can toss you, kind of like getting knocked off a horse,” said Dr. Bruce Adams.

Adams is the chief of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center. His ER has handled lightning victims before, and he says the first moments after a strike are critical for a patient.

“Some people are even afraid of touching the victims, because they still think they have electricity on them," he said. "They do not. They’re safe to do CPR. If you start CPR, very often within a couple of minutes those patients will get back and you can recover them.”

In fact, research shows four out of five people will survive a lightning strike. But the best bet, experts say, is avoiding the weather altogether.

“The expression is: When thunder roars, get indoors,” Adams said.

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