Archive for September 9th, 2006

When There’s Lightning, Turn Off Your Cell Phone

September 9, 2006

images122.jpgWe’re into the rainy season… we get thunderstorms and lightning then we get the flooded streets. While in the traffic because of the congested road, we use the cell phones to pass the time. But you’re in actual danger of being hit by lightning if it strikes.

The June issue of the British Medical Journal reported a case of a  15-year-old girl struck by lightning while using her cell phone in a London park last year. The girl survived, but is now considered disabled suffering from not only physical injury but traumatic emotional problems.  She is presently confined to a wheelchair, has lost some hearing in the ear she was holding the phone to and can’t recall the moment she was hit by lightning because she had cardiac arrest then. 

The journal reports that ” this phenomenon is a public health issue, and education is necessary to highlight the risk of using mobile phones outdoors during stormy weather to prevent future fatal consequences from lightning-strike injuries related to mobile phones.

It is important to note that according to the National Weather Service statistics: around 400 people are struck and approximately 67 are killed each year by lightning.  This number actually is more than deaths caused by hurricanes or tornadoes. What is significant is the life long disability that results after one is hit by lightning.

It is theorized in the report that normally: ” the high resistance of human skin means that if lightning strikes, it is conducted over the skin without entering the body, resulting in a low death-rate phenomenon known as “flashover.” But conductive materials such as liquids or metallic objects — i.e. cell phones — disrupt the flashover and result in internal injury with greater death rates”.

For Our Healthy Practice Tips Series 2: Here are some accepted guidelines in the use of appliances during bad weather:

  • Do not use metallic objects like cordless or mobile phones during a thunderstorm.
  • Don’t use a land-line telephone. Lightning can come through the telephone line and hit you.
  • Avoid electrical appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers or take a shower because lightning can travel through water pipes.

These guidelines are there for us to consider and follow.  Even if the jury is still out on whether mobile phones are really a hazard for use during bad weather is still being refuted by some… arguing that the metal content of mobile phones is so small to be a factor… but rather… being hit by lightning is a matter of being in a wrong place at a wrong time.

For now, it is still prudent that the next time you are stuck in traffic because of the rain… before you answer your mobile phone… Just make sure

Don’t Use Your Phone When Lightning Strikes!