WFO Denver/Boulder

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT 
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BOULDER CO
600 AM MDT FRI JUN 23, 2006

Colorado Lightning and Wildfire Awareness Week continues through Saturday. 
Lightning safety information provided this week will hopefully help you
avoid any encounters with lightning.  Today's statement discusses lightning
injuries. 

THE FACTS ABOUT LIGHTNING STRIKE VICTIMS

In Colorado cloud to ground lightning flashes occur nearly a half million
times each year.  With our population, millions of visitors each year, and
many outdoor activities, it is not surprising that in Colorado three people
are killed each year, and 18 people are injured. While any death is tragic
and devastating to the family, injuries can be equally tragic and even more
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 the
victim's family, the incident may lead to a loss of income for the family. 
Over time, medical expenses for treatment may drain the family's assets.

If someone is struck by lightning, it's 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.  Don't let the rescuers become lightning
victims.  Lightning can strike the same place twice.

Lightning strike victims may face many mental challenges that they'll have
to live with for the rest of their lives.  When the brain is affected by a
lightning strike, the person often has difficultly 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 complain of becoming easily fatigued and may become exhausted
after only a few hours 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 from which they will suffer for the rest of their lives.  The
pain can be so intense that it affects the person's ability to function. 
Many survivors complain of chronic headaches, some of which are very
intense and debilitating.

It is important to remember that, while many lightning victims survive,
their lives are changed forever, and their dreams for the future and those
of their family will never be the same.

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   (All in lower case)

For additional information about lightning or lightning safety, visit
NOAA's Lightning Safety Awareness
web site at:
                                
     http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov  (All in lower case)






                                                  

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