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STATE WIDE-If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. But, even though you may already know that, you still might not think of lightning as the killer it can be. Forecaster Joe Nield, with the National Weather Service Indianapolis office, said lightning can kill people and cause serious injuries.

“I’d be willing to bet if you walked up to 100 people on the street and asked them to list the top three storm-related killers, you wouldn’t get lightning from many folks,” said Nield. “Most folks think of lightning as it’s pretty and powerful. But, you don’t hear about a lot of mass casualty events from lightening like hurricanes and tornadoes.”

LINK: Lightning Safety Awareness

But, lightning kills 47 people per year, on average, in the United States.

“There’s 25 million or so cloud to ground lightning strikes throughout the year in the U.S. and every one of them is capable of injuring or killing somebody.”

Most people survive lightning strikes, said Nield. But, the National Weather Service says besides some of the obvious injuries that could come from a lightning strike, some people have reported life-changing side effects, like mood changes, memory loss, sleep disorders, pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness, irritability, fatigue, muscle spasms, and depression.


That’s why anyone who’s struck needs to get medical attention immediately. Nield said call 911 and do what it takes to make sure the person survives.

“They don’t carry a charge. You don’t need to worry about helping them. You need to do so immediately. You’re perfectly safe while doing so,” said Nield.

Nield said you should not look for shelter under a tree or in a building that has an open side during a storm. He said if you can’t find any other sturdy structure, a car will do “with the windows rolled up and not touching anything that’s in contact with the frame of the vehicle”.

He said if you’re fishing or hiking or mowing the yard, or any outdoor activity, and a storm comes up, trying to squeeze in five or ten more minutes before you seek shelter is not worth your health, or your life.

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Zakaz96