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PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
600 AM EDT FRI JUN 25 2010

...JUNE 20ST-26TH IS LIGHTNING SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS DECLARED JUNE 20ST THROUGH JUNE
26TH AS LIGHTNING SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK.  THIS WEEK...THE NATIONAL
WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE IN MELBOURNE WILL BE ISSUING
INFORMATION STATEMENTS ABOUT LIGHTNING.


TODAY'S TOPIC:  MEDICAL ASPECTS OF LIGHTNING

LIGHTNING IS A MAJOR CAUSE OF STORM RELATED INJURIES AND DEATHS IN
THE UNITED STATES, EXCEEDING HURRICANES AND TORNADOES IN MOST YEARS.
A LIGHTNING STRIKE CAN RESULT IN CARDIAC ARREST AT THE TIME OF THE
INJURY.  HOWEVER, ON AVERAGE LIGHTNING KILLS ONLY 10 PERCENT OF THE 
TIME.  THE 90 PERCENT WHO SURVIVE USUALLY ARE LEFT WITH VARYING
DEGREES OF DISABILITY...OFTEN PERMANENT. 

ABOUT ONE THIRD OF ALL LIGHTNING INJURIES OCCUR ON THE JOB, A SECOND 
THIRD INVOLVE OUTDOOR RECREATION, AND THE FINAL THIRD INVOLVE
DIVERSE SITUATIONS...INCLUDING INJURIES TO PEOPLE INDOORS. 

IF A PERSON IS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE MAY BE
NEEDED TO SAVE THE PERSON'S LIFE.  CARDIAC ARREST, ARRHYTHMIA,
BURNS, AND NERVE DAMAGE ARE THE MOST COMMON INJURIES.  HOWEVER, WITH
PROPER TREATMENT SUCH AS CPR, MOST VICTIMS CAN SURVIVE A LIGHTNING 
STRIKE.

THE FIRST RULE OF ANY RESCUE OPERATION IS:  DO NOT CREATE ADDITIONAL
CASUALTIES.  IF A PERSON IS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, TRY TO MOVE THEM TO 
A SAFER LOCATION SO AS NOT TO BE INJURED YOURSELF BY SUBSEQUENT 
STRIKES. BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN DOING SO, HOWEVER, AS HEAD AND NECK
INJURIES MAY HAVE OCCURRED, ESPECIALLY IF THE PERSON HAS BEEN THROWN
BY THE STRIKE.  THE PERSON WILL BE SAFE TO HANDLE AS THE HUMAN BODY
DOES NOT STORE ELECTRIC CHARGE.  IF THE PERSON IS UNCONSCIOUS,
ADMINISTER CPR UNTIL HELP ARRIVES.

PEOPLE WHO HAVE SURVIVED A LIGHTNING STRIKE OFTEN HAVE DIFFICULTY
WITH SHORT-TERM MEMORY, INCORPORATING NEW INFORMATION, ACCESSING OLD
INFORMATION, AND MULTITASKING.  DISTRACTION, IRRITABILITY, AND 
PERSONALITY CHANGES ARE COMMON.  SHORTLY AFTER THE STRIKE, SURVIVORS
MAY COMPLAIN OF INTENSE HEADACHES, RINGING IN THE EARS, DIZZINESS, 
NAUSEA, AND OTHER POST-CONCUSSION TYPE SYMPTOMS.  THEY MAY DEVELOP
SLEEP ABNORMALITIES OR SEIZURES, EVEN SEVERAL WEEKS OR MONTHS AFTER
THE INJURY.  MANY COMPLAIN OF BECOMING EXHAUSTED AFTER ONLY A FEW
HOURS OF WORK.  TASKS THAT ONCE MAY HAVE BEEN AUTOMATIC MAY REQUIRE
EXTREME CONCENTRATION.

LIGHTNING SURVIVIORS MAY SUFFER PERSONALITY CHANGES BECAUSE OF
FRONTAL LOBE DAMAGE.  SOME BECOME IRRITABLE AND EASY TO ANGER.  MANY
ARE INCAPABLE OF HANDLING THE ACTIVITIES THEY USED TO DO AND AS A 
RESULT, ISOLATE THEMSELVES FROM OTHERS AND WITHDRAW FROM NORMAL
LIFE.  DEPRESSION IS A BIG PROBLEM FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE CHANGED AND 
LOST SO MUCH.  SOME MAY RESORT TO ALCOHOL AND DRUGS.  AN INJURY SUCH
AS THIS AFFECTS THE ENTIRE FAMILY, NOT JUST THE PERSON WHO HAS BEEN 
STRUCK. FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF THE SURVIVOR MUST REMAIN SUPPORTIVE
EVEN THOUGH IT MAY REQUIRE ADJUSTMENTS TO THEIR RELATIONSHIP. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT LIGHTNING AND LIGHTNING SAFETY...VISIT 
THE LIGHTNING INFORMATION CENTER AT WEBSITE OF THE NATIONAL WEATHER 
SERVICE IN MELBOURNE:  HTTP://WWW.SRH.NOAA.GOV/MLB/?n=lighhtning

OR VISIT NOAA'S LIGHTNING SAFETY WEBPAGE AT:  
HTTP://WWW.LIGHTNINGSAFETY.NOAA.GOV 

$$
 

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