Safety from Lightning
The safety of workers is the number ONE priority when challenged by bad weather and lightning! We approached a few specialists in EMS to enquire about preparedness and the response to injuries from incidents of lightning.
Be Prepared and ready to Respond
With our beautiful late afternoon thunderstorms, it is almost a guarantee that they will be accompanied by beautiful lighting. Thunder and lightning usually start some time before it starts to rain, so don’t wait until the rain starts before you take action and get to an area of safety.
Golden Rule: When It Roars Get Indoors
- The first rule of keeping safe is to avoid being outside when there is lightning activity.
- It’s also important to note that lightning often occurs around the edges of a thundercloud, so it doesn’t have to be raining.
- At the first sign of lightning or thunder, it’s best to head inside a proper building (rather than a boma or other partial protection).
- If you are unable to make it into a safe building, get into a vehicle, making sure the windows are shut.
- A car is a safe place to find shelter. Even though a car is made out of metal, it acts as a ‘Faraday cage’ which prevents current from flowing through the vehicle and its occupants.
- In the event that you are out in an open field and are unable to get to another area of safety, lie down or crouch on the ground until the storm has passed.
- Do not stand under canopy’s, porches, picnic shelters or trees as they do not provide much protection from direct lightning strikes or an electrical “splash” that may come from another object that has been hit.
- Stay away from trees, water, high ground or open fields.
- Canopy shelters, as well as metal objects such as flag poles and light poles, should be avoided.
- To be safe, it’s best to stay inside for 30 minutes after you heard the last clap of thunder.
At all times, indoors or out, avoid water (lakes, dams, river’s, water faucets, showers, baths) as water is a really good conductor of electricity!
Emergency Response if struck by lightning
If you are near a person that has been struck by lightning, immediately activate the emergency services.
If the person is unconscious and not breathing, start CPR, and an emergency call taker will talk you through the steps if you do not know how to do CPR.
It is essential that CPR is started promptly, as the electrical shock may interfere with the electrical current of the heart, causing it to stop beating properly.
The patient may appear to be decreased in many cases as the electrical current having gone through the body stops the heart, and it will need to be restarted again. CPR is performed in long duration on these patients, where immediate activation of emergency care and starting of CPR, has a very good prognosis for these patients.
All patients that are affected by lightning strikes need to be further observed at an appropriate medical facility.