When lightning strikes

2016-01-13 06:00

IN the recent storms in KZN lightning has injured a number of people and three deaths have been reported. A couple on their New Hanover farm were struck by a lightning bolt while in a field talking to someone in a vehicle. The wife was struck by this sudden bolt which came literally out of a blue sky, and had to be hospitalised.
The following information and advice is based on an American article to advise children on what to do in a storm - obviously it applies to all ages and to everywhere.

Lightning is a bright flash of electricity produced by a thunderstorm and can be very dangerous. It is approximately 54 000°F - that is six times hotter than the surface of the sun.

Thunder is caused by lightning. When a lightning bolt travels from the cloud to the ground it actually opens up a little hole in the air, called a channel. Once the light is gone the air collapses back in and creates a sound wave that we hear as thunder. The reason we see lightning before we hear thunder is because light travels faster than sound.
If you are outside and the sky is darkening and there are flashes of lightning or increasing winds, do not wait for the rain to begin as lightning often proceeds rain.

If you hear the sound of thunder, go to a safe place immediately. The best place to go is a sturdy building or a vehicle, but make sure the windows are shut. If there is no shelter around, stay away from trees. Crouch down in the open area, keeping twice as far away from a tree as far as it is tall. Put your feet together and place your hands over your ears to minimise hearing damage from thunder.

If you’re with a group of people stay about five metres from each other. Stay out of water because it is a great conductor of electricity. Swimming, snorkeling, standing in puddles is not good, and avoid metal.

If you are indoors, avoid water as it is a great conductor of electricity, so do not take a shower, wash your hands, wash dishes or do laundry. Do not use a corded telephone. Lightning may strike exterior phone lines. Do not use electric equipment like computers and appliances during a storm. Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.

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