Health Effects of Lightning Strikes

June 22, 2011; 8:00 AM ET
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Lightning strikes are nearly as varied as snowflakes. Each individual strike is unique, and the effects on lightning-strike victims can be equally varied.

Some strikes can be mostly harmless, while others can be severe and even deadly.

In the U.S. alone, there are over 25 million lightning flashes every year. While uncommon, these flashes kill an average of 58 people, while injuring at least 300 more.

While lightning strikes may seem to not cause initial external damage, internal damage can be severe.

Short-term health problems can include anything from mild daze to paralysis, and long-term issues can cause recurring problems. Many former lightning strike victims complain of joint and muscle problems and neurological issues such as memory loss or headaches.

Obviously, anyone struck by lightning should immediately consult a doctor and also think about contacting their insurance company to make sure any and all incidents are covered.

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from where it is raining. If you hear thunder, you are at risk even if you don't see lightning.

The odds of getting struck by lightning are slim, but the more prepared you are for such an eventuality, the better. There are several different ways to keep yourself safe from lightning strikes on land and sea.





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