Lightning hotspots warning

2010-11-09 00:00

THE South African Weather Service has warned people to take extra care when thunderstorms develop in the Greytown, Ixopo, Pietermaritzburg, Giant Castle, Underberg and Drakensberg areas.

These are areas that are known to be lightning hotspots.

Weather forecaster Wisani Maluleke said: “People living in these areas must be on a lookout for strong winds, hail- storms and lightning strikes.

“With thunderstorms anything is possible because they come with all kinds of destruction that can sometimes damage property or have someone killed.”

Jeffrey Wicks of Netcare911 said: “Although we have not received many cases of people being struck by lightning, there has been a case that we attended to of a man who was struck to death by lightning in Howick.

“Lightning strikes are extremely serious,” Wicks said, and if a person is thought to have been struck by lightning, the attending person should call 082 911 for help immediately.

He said the injury is often characterised by a small burn at the point of entry and a larger burn at the point where the charge exits the body.

“In the case of a lightning strike, one should assess whether or not the person is breathing and has a pulse.

“If neither is present and the attending person is familiar with CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), they should start it then,” Wicks said.

He emphasised that it is vital to call for help.

Sanjeev Sewnarain of the weather service said South Africa is a lightning-prone country and lightning-related deaths are about four times higher than the global average.

He said the average lightning flash contains enough energy to keep a 100-watt lightbulb lit for three months.

The flash heats the air around it to nearly 28 000°C, which is hotter than the surface of the Sun, added Sewnarain.

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