WFO Denver/Boulder

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT 
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BOULDER CO
600 AM MDT FRI Jun 28 2013

Colorado Lightning Safety Awareness Week continues through Saturday.  
Lightning safety information provided this week will hopefully 
help you avoid any encounters with lightning.  Today
we discuss lightning injuries. 

THE FACTS ABOUT LIGHTNING STRIKE VICTIMS

In Colorado cloud to ground lightning flashes occur nearly a half million 
times each year.  With millions of visitors and extensive outdoor 
activities...it is not surprising that three people are killed each year 
in Colorado...and there are an average of 13 lightning injuries. While 
any death is tragic...injuries can be equally tragic and devastating to 
the family.  For those who have a relative that suffers a significant 
disability from lightning...life changes forever.  In addition 
to the physical pain and mental anguish suffered by the victim and their
family...the incident may lead to a loss of income for the family.  Over 
time...medical expenses for treatment may drain the assets of a family.  

If someone is struck by lightning...it is important that they receive the 
appropriate medical attention immediately.  Some deaths can be prevented 
if the victims are attended to promptly.  Lightning victims do not carry 
an electrical charge and are safe to handle.  First... have someone call 
9-1-1 or your local ambulance service.  Check to see that the victim is 
breathing and has a pulse... and continue to monitor the victim until help 
arrives.  Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death in lightning 
fatalities.  If necessary...begin cardio-pulmonary resuscitation...CPR.  
Also...if possible move the victim to a safer place.  Do not let the 
rescuers become lightning victims.  Lightning can strike the same place 
twice.

Lightning strike victims may face many mental challenges that they will 
have to live with for the rest of their lives.  When the brain is affected 
by a lightning strike...the person often has difficulty with many of the 
mental processes that most people take for granted.  The person may suffer 
from short-term memory loss...and may have difficulty mentally storing new 
information and accessing old information.  Victims may often find it very 
difficult to carry on more than one task at a time... and may be easily 
distracted.  Their personality may change and they may become easily 
irritated.

Victims often becoming easily fatigued and may become exhausted after only 
a few hours of work.  This may be because mental tasks that were once 
automatic may now require intense concentration to accomplish.  Although 
some victims may sleep excessively at first...after a few weeks many find 
it difficult to sleep more than two or three hours at a time.

Another common long-term problem for survivors is pain.  
Medically...pain is difficult to quantify.  Lightning strike victims 
often suffer irreparable nerve damage that causes intense pain that 
affects the ability to function.  Many survivors complain of chronic 
headaches...some of which are very intense and debilitating.

Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors...International...is a 
support group to individuals and families that are struggling with 
life after a lightning injury.  Helpful information is available at 
their web address: 

http://www.lightning-strike.org

For additional information about lightning or lightning safety... 
visit NOAA's Lightning Safety Awareness web site at:

     http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov

Glancy
Warning Coordination Meteorologist
National Weather Service Boulder  


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