Safety tips when lightning strikes

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    JOHANNESBURG – Unplug all electronics, as lightning can strike power cables outside your home and travel into the electronic equipment via electricity cables, Arrive Alive warned.

    According to the South African Weather Service, approximately 260 people are killed by lightning in South Africa each year. 

    Arrive Alive said in a statement that it’s not always possible to predict where and when lightning will strike, but provided some tips to help keep you, your family and possessions safe if a lightning activity happens.

    “Severe electrical shocks, like lightning strikes to the body, affect almost every organ and tissue and may cause extensive damage. Some of the after-effects of a lightning strike include cardiac and pulmonary arrest (no pulse and no breathing), usually temporary paralysis, temporary deafness and minor to severe burns,” said Arrive Alive.

    Arrive Alive explained what to do when a person is struck by lightning:

    • If you are near a person that has been struck by lightning, immediately activate (contact) the emergency services.
    • If the person is unconscious and not breathing, start CPR, and an emergency call taker (from the emergency services you have contacted) 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 deceased 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.

    Arrive Alive has warned that you should be prepared and ready to respond to a lightning strike. “With our beautiful late afternoon thunderstorms, it is almost a guarantee that they will be accompanied by beautiful lightning. 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.”

    Arrive Alive’s tips to keep you safe: 

    • Make sure that you are indoors, with all doors and windows closed.
    • Even though it is a beautiful show to watch, do not sit near the windows or doors, stay at least two meters away.
    • Lightning can damage electronics, telephones and other systems connected to an electrical outlet in your house.
    • Unplug all electronics, as lightning can strike power cables that are outside your home, and can travel into the electronic equipment via electricity cables.
    • Not only is there a danger of you being shocked if you are near the equipment when the lightning strikes, but it may also become an expensive operation having to replace lightning damaged property.
    • Surge protectors can help but remember that these are not fail-safe – if the lightning strike is a powerful one, it could still destroy equipment.
    • Protect your loved ones by making sure everyone stays away from all plumbing including toilets, sinks and taps, as water is a conductor of electricity.
    • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment which puts you in direct contact with electricity.

    Always be cautious and aware during electrical storms. Rather ensure your safety than take any unnecessary risks.

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