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Don't tempt Thor.

The thought of the mythical Thor angrily throwing lightning bolts may not frighten us, but lightning should command our greatest respect. Hundreds of people are killed each year in this country by lightning; most of these cases occur as the result of accidents that could have been avoided.

Because thunderstorms are most likely to occur on warm summer days, golf courses are a common site of lightning fatalities. The victims are usually golfers who continue to play in spite of an impending storm or who seek shelter under a tree until the storm passes.

(An exception was the spectator at the PGA Championship golf tournament last year in suburban Indianapolis who was killed when walking to his car in the parking lot during a thunderstorm.)

To reduce the risk when a thunderstorm is brewing, observe the following precautions:

Go or stay inside, and keep away from objects that can conduct electricity: water and gas pipes, telephone, stove, electrical appliances.

If outside and unable to seek shelter in a building or car, don't stand under a tall, isolated object such as a tree or a tent. If a group of trees shorter than surrounding trees is available, stand under the smaller ones.

Don't hold onto any item that might conduct electricity (golf club, umbrella, etc.) and remove anything you're wearing that may be metallic or conductive (hearing aid, glasses, jewelry, hairpins, golf shoes with metal spikes, etc).

If outside where no shelter is available, lie down and curl up on your side in the lowest point of ground (ditch or other depression), preferably on a plastic or rubber raincoat, or other insulation from the ground.

Don't stay in a group if with others. Lightning seems to seek the most conspicuous object present.

Get to shore if swimming or boating. If that's not possible, get under a bridge, or stay close to a steep bank or a cliff.

Lightning is a massive buildup of static electricity. If you feel the hair on your body standing on end, you may be near the path of a lightning bolt about to happen. Your only recourse is to curl up instantly into the tightest ball possible to expose the least of your body--and pray!
COPYRIGHT 1992 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:preventing lightning accidents
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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