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First aid for lightning strikes


  • Immediately get away from pools, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • Get off the beach.
  • Do NOT seek shelter under a picnic shelter, lone tree, or other object to keep you dry. It will attract lightning. The rain won’t kill you so its better to be wet and alive than dry and dead.
  • Avoid standing near tall objects.
  • Keep away from metal objects including bikes, golf carts, umbrellas, fencing, machinery, etc.
  • Get indoors if at all possible or get in a hard-topped vehicle.
  • Cars are very safe places to be during lightning storms. Even though it is metal and seems like a perfect target, if it is struck the electricity will conduct through metal in the car, and around your body, not through it, and into the ground.
  • If you get caught in an open field during a lightning storm, find a ditch to lie in if possible. If not, crouch down with your head between your knees (and don’t lie flat). Try to become as small as possible.
  • If you are above treeline, seek shelter in the lowest area you can reach, preferably with large boulders around so you can get some protection from driving rain behind some smaller boulders.
  • Put on your rain gear and remove your backpack. If you have walking poles, leave them with your pack.
  • Your group should not huddle together. Instead, have each person find shelter about 30 metres.
  • If you are not able to get to any shelter, you need to become a small target and cross your fingers. Minimize your contact with the ground and minimize your height. Crouching down on the balls of your feet placed close together with your head tucked down is the recommended position.
  • If there are multiple casualties, prioritize care needed. A victim that is not breathing is highest priority. There is a relatively good chance of reviving a lightning casualty with CPR.
  • Check for and give first aid for burns. Check around jewelry, buckles, and fingers and toes especially.
  • Treat for shock, keeping the casualty warm and calm
  • How Far Away Is It?
  • Count how many seconds pass between the flash of the lightning and sound of the thunder.
  • Divide the number of seconds by 5 to find the distance in miles (divide by 3 for kilometers) from you to the lightning (5 seconds = 1 mile).

About Yusuf Mwesigwa

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