|Congratulations to Our Winners
Kristi Murdock Loren Godburn
Grace Hertz Margaret English
Edee Scott Judy Pfaff
Betty Ware Marty Guidry
Suzan Farris Sandy Thompson
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Lori Terwilliger Wayne Douglas
Dorothy Oksner Stan Read
Rick Norman Elaine C. Hebert
Kelly Fetherlin Beth Tafel
Lynda Snider Bill Utterback
Gary Sterne Sheri Fenley
Tom Tullis Fred Stuart
Delores Martin Tom Pincince
|Odds of Becoming a Lightning Victim
|U.S. 2000 Census population
|Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year (reported deaths
|Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year (estimated total
deaths + injuries)
|Odds of being struck in your lifetime (Est. 80 years)
|Odds you will be affected by someone being struck (Ten people
affected for every one struck)
duration, only lasting up to a few milliseconds. Most of the current from a lightning
strike passes over the surface of the body in a process called "external flashover."
Both industrial shocks and lightning strikes result in deep burns at point of contact - for
industry the points of contact are usually on the upper limbs, hands and wrists, while
for lightning they are mostly on the head, neck and shoulders. Industrial shock victims
sometimes exhibit deep tissue destruction along the entire current path, while lightning
victims’ burns seem to center at the entry and exit points. Both industrial shock and
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|Answers to Quiz #115
June 23, 2007
|To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
In the most terrible and nimble stroke
Of quick, cross lightning?
(Wm. Shakespeare, "King Lear", Act 4, Scene 7)
|1. What happened to this man?
2. What are your chances of surviving if it happens to you?
3. What is the pattern on his back called?
1. He was struck by lightning.
2. Between 20-30%
3. A Litchenberg figure.
|Sometimes a good guess will take you a long way. The burn on his back looks
like a lightning pattern. If you guessed he was struck by lightning, you could
search Google or Google Images using the keywords man struck by lightening or
struck by lightning and that would lead you to the same photo used in this weeks
quiz. But you have to either recognize the pattern or just plain guess.
|First Prize for the Most Wrong Answers:
|Sharon: Colleen, Where did you ever find this picture? I do not think it is TSS as that
leaves a sunburn rash. It is obviously some type of blood poisioning that started in the
lower back and traveled up towards the heart. You can see the veins that it entered into
to. I have been a nurse for 26 years and my friend is a Nurse Practitioner and neither
of us can tell you the name of what this is. It is obvious the man lived, even though the
infection was quite severe.
Colleen: C'mon, the answer is obvious. I'll be shocked if you don't get it right!
Sharon: You have me stumped on the quiz. It is either blood poisoning of some type
or cellulitis. You have two nurses stumped.
Colleen: Nope. Another chance?
Sharon: Shingles;most survive; dermatomal pattern; It hurts!
Colleen: I am shocked you haven't figured it out yet.
Sharon: Toxic Shock Syndrome; high degree of fatality but seen less than years
Colleen: Duh. Men don't get toxic shock syndrome.
Lightning survivors sometimes have
trouble convincing friends and family—
even doctors—that they've been struck.
|Comments from Our Readers
On average, 67 Americans are reported killed by
lightning each year. Nobody keeps accurate records
of the number of lightning injuries, but estimates
range from 200 to 1,000 annually. According to a
study entitled "Demographics of U.S. Lightning
Casualties and Damages from 1959 - 1994," by
Ronald L. Holle and Raúl E. López of the National
Severe Storms Laboratory and E. Brian Curran of
the National Weather Service, males ((who are more
likely to work outside and play golf). account for
84% of lightning fatalities and 82% of injuries.
|Lightning over Arlington, VA
Eighty percent of lightning strike victims survive. But twenty five percent of survivors
suffer major aftereffects. Many of the aftereffects of lightning are difficult for
inexperienced medical professionals) to characterize. Sometimes lightning victims’
symptoms are dismissed as "fakery, whining, and imagination" by responsible agencies.
Sometimes valid claims for workers compensation or other insurance are denied in
The National Weather Service publication Storm Data recorded 3,239 deaths and 9,818
injuries from lightning strikes between 1959 and 1994. Only flash floods and river
floods cause more weather-related deaths. But
according to Dr. Elisabeth Gourbière of the
Electricité de France, Service des Etudes Médicales,
only 20 percent of lightning victims are immediately
struck dead. Still, many doctors do not fully
understand how to treat the injuries of the other 80
percent of lightning victims who survive a strike.
Says Gourbière, "The pathology of lightning, or
keraunopathy, is known only to a few specialists."
If you'd like to experience a
lightning strike, go golfing one
Sunday in July around 4 p.m. If
you're really determined, be sure
you do it in Florida.
Florida has twice as many
lightning casualties (deaths and
injuries combined) as any other
state. Most lightning casualties
occur in the afternoon -
two-thirds between noon and 4
p.m. local standard time with a
casualty maximum at 4. Sunday
has 24% more deaths than other
days followed by Wednesday.
Lightning reports reach their peak
Many lightning victims had been
walking in an open field or
swimming before they were
struck. Other lightning victims
had been holding metal objects
such as golf clubs, fishing rods,
hay forks, or umbrellas. But even
those not holding metal objects
are as likely to be struck by
lightning as a bronze statue of the
Unlike garden-variety electrical shock, which finds the quickest route directly through
the body, lightning can flash over the outside of a victim, sometimes blowing off
clothes without leaving so much as a mark on the skin. The high-voltage electricity that
zips through the body does its damage in just a few milliseconds. In many cases, there
are no visible burns, though temporary fernlike bruises called Lichtenberg figures
sometimes appear. Medical tests like MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays usually come back
normal. But those are anatomical tests of how the body looks, not functional tests of
how it works, and they can be deceiving. Zap a computer with an electrical surge and
its hardware will appear unchanged, but that doesn't mean it'll still be able to run Leisure
Suit Larry. The same is true of humans.
Most doctors are more familiar with electrical shocks, such as those received by
The top ten states for lightning casualties are: Florida,
Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, New York,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and Texas.
Florida has twice as many casualties as any other state.
World map showing frequency of lightning strikes, in
flashes per km² per year. Lightning strikes most
frequently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
-- A bolt of lightning can travel at a speed of 45 km/s (kilometres per second) (100,000
mph, 160,000 km/h).  It can reach temperatures approaching 28,000 °C (50,000
°F), hot enough to fuse soil or sand into glass channels.
-- An average bolt of negative lightning carries a current of 40 kA (kiloamperes),
although some bolts can be up to 120 kA, and transfers a charge of 5 coulombs and
500 MJ (megajoules), or enough energy to power a 100 watt lightbulb for just under
two months. The voltage depends on the length of the bolt: with the dielectric
breakdown of air being 3 million volts per meter, this works out at about one billion
volts for a 300m (1,000 feet) lightning bolt.
-- NASA scientists have also found that the radio waves created by lightning clear a
safe zone in the radiation belt surrounding the earth. This zone, known as the Van Allen
Belt slot, can potentially be a safe haven for satellites, offering them protection from the
Lichtenberg figures sometimes appear on
the skin of the victimsof lightning strikes.
These are reddish, fernlike patterns that
may persist for hours or days on survivors.
They are also a useful indicator for medical
examiners when trying to determine the
cause of death in a victim. Lichtenberg
figures appearing on people are sometimes
called Lightning Flowers, and they are
thought to be caused by the rupture of
small capillaries under the skin due to either
the passage of the lightning current or the
shock wave from the lightning discharge.
The medical term for this phenomenon is
called 'arborescent lightning burn' or
|For more information on lightning
strike survivors, click here.
He was in the wrong place at the wrong time - he was hit by lightning. Out playing
golf? I would want to make sure that my life insurance policy was paid up as the
chances of my surviving a lightning strike would definitely not be in my favor.
The day I did the research on that quiz, immediately after... we had the worst
thunderstorm so far this season... if I were going to get fearful, it would have been
then. I am either daft or have it right... nothing in between, but I figure that the Eternal
is in control here.... If lightening strikes, so be it.
Between golf and that most outdoor jobs are held by men... when do you see women
running gas powered weed eaters on the side of the highway??? They are the roofers
and tree climbers and stuff...
According to National Geo... its seems that women are attacked by hippos more than
men... in fact they can't figure out why two women were picked out in two separate
incidents when there were perfectly good men there to bite thru the chest. I bet it's the
way we smell! Then again, more men go into Hippo infested waters than women, but
the women take the bullet so to speak... what can I say??? Most women don't go on
safari without a man... so it's their fault that women are put at risk in that area.
Men need to play something. If they don't they get morose.
It is also interesting to note that, according to the CDC: "Because persons struck by
lightning have a better chance of survival than persons suffering cardiopulmonary arrest
from other causes, resuscitation of persons struck by lightning should be initiated
immediately." Suzan Farris
Mystery author Charlaine Harris is writing a really nice series about Harper Connelly, a
young woman who has been able to find graves (marked or not) since she was struck
by lightning. Harris has a great style. Kristi Murdock
Now, just don’t go and stick one of those pointed things with metal rods up in the air
when it rains. I must say I am a mad woman when it comes to lightning. I always run
around and unplug everything. Judy Paff
industrial workers when they have an
accidental run-in with high-voltage
equipment. But lightning injuries are not
the same as electrical shocks. For one
thing, the contact voltage of a typical
industrial electrical shock is 20 to 63
kilovolts, while a lightning strike delivers
about 300 kilovolts.
Industrial shocks rarely last longer than
half a second (500 milliseconds) because
a circuit breaker opens or the person is
thrown far from the live conductor.
Lightning strikes have an even shorter
Modern 3D Lichtenberg Figure in a
block of clear acrylic showing
fractal-shaped discharge pattern.
lightning victims may be injured from falling down or
being thrown, and the leading cause of immediate death
for both is cardiac or cardiopulmonary arrest.
If you survive a shock, you still have to deal with the
consequences of the electrical burns. Industrial shock
burns can lead to kidney failure, infection, muscle and
tissue damage, or amputation. Lightning burns are
exceptionally life threatening (see box at the end of this
Gourbière says that 70 percent of lightning survivors
experience residual effects, most commonly affecting
the brain (neuropsychiatric, vision and hearing). These
effects can develop slowly, only becoming apparent
If you'd like to experience a lightning strike, go golfing one Sunday in July around 4
p.m. If you're really determined, be sure you do it in Florida.
Florida has twice as many lightning casualties (deaths and injuries combined) as any
other state. Most lightning casualties occur in the afternoon - two-thirds between noon
and 4 p.m. local standard time with a casualties maximum at 4. Sunday has 24% more
deaths than other days, followed by Wednesday. Lightning reports reach their peak in
Many lightning victims had been walking in an open field or swimming before they
were struck. Other lightning victims had been holding metal objects such as golf clubs,
fishing rods, hay forks, or umbrellas. But even those not holding metal objects are as
likely to be struck by lightning as a bronze statue of the same size.
A lightning strike can also create a large Lichtenberg Figure in the grass surrounding the
point hit by the bolt. Fulgarites are hollow, sometimes branching tubes that are formed
when the powerful electrial current from a lightning strike creates underground
discharge channels within poorly conducting sandy, or sandy-clay soils. These are
sometimes found on golf courses or in grassy meadows. Fulgurites may also be created
as sand and soil is fused into glassy tubes by the heat of the high current lightning
By Joshua Foer