Lightning, Under wire bra, burns. cardiac irregularities, neurological problems, seizures, amnesia, ruptured ear drums, cataracts, kidney problems, impotence
How a Bra Killed Two Young Women
What measures one inch in diameter and kills more people than hurricanes and tornadoes combined in the U.S., is 50,000 times hotter than the sun and strikes this planet 3.6 million times every year? No doubt you have the answer, lightning. But you may not know there’s less chance of dying from this underrated killer if you remember “The 30 second rule”. And how a bra killed two English women.
Lightning packs a huge punch when it strikes. If you’re unlucky to be the victim, 100,000,000 to 300,000,000 volts will pass through your body with instant and deadly consequences.
On July 10, 1926, lightning exploded a navy ammunition depot in Mount Hope, New Jersey, killing 19 people. The cost to rebuild the facility, 81 million.
In May, 1937, lightning struck the German airship, Hindenberg, and 36 passengers perished.
Then, in December 1963, a Pan Am 707 crashed in flames when lightning hit the Boeing’s fuel tank killing 81 passengers.
One of the most bizarre lightning deaths occurred in London, England. Two women were killed instantly when 100,000,000 volts stuck their underwired bras.
Lightning kills 4X as many men as women. But it’s not due to male testosterone. Over the years men have simply been involved in more outdoor sports during May to September.
Some people luckily escape death when lightning strikes them. Lee Trevino, the exuberant golfer, never at a loss for words, was struck by lightning during a gold tournament. He later remarked, “It completely lifted me off the ground. I couldn’t breath. I thought by all rights they should be putting me in the ground at 10:00 am Monday morning.”
If lightning doesn’t kill, it can leave victims with major injuries to a number of vital organs. Some people have extensive burns. Others develop cardiac irregularities, and neurological problems such as seizures and amnesia. Still more are left with ruptured ear drums, cataracts, kidney problems and impotence. In effect, a lightning strike can affect any organ of the body often with lasting consequences.
Can you decrease your risk of dying from lightning? The first rule is, don’t mess around with 100,000,000 volts. You may be having the best round of golf in your life and want to break a record. But if you hear thunder, immediately stop playing and walk back to the clubhouse alone. There’s less chance of being “splashed” if lightning strikes a nearby companion.
Studies show that golfers often make the mistake of standing with a gold club in hand or an umbrella. And be sure to remove metal objects from your hair. A tiny hair pin has been known to increase the risk of being killed by lightning.
If you’re boating, it’s prudent to head for port. Swimmers should get out of the water. And if you’re hiking, or playing sports, and your hair suddenly stands on end during a storm, or your skin tingles, you’re about to be struck by lightning. Your only hope is to drop immediately to the ground.
You’re supposed to be safe in a car. But several summers ago I was driving on the New York Thruway when lightning struck the road about 20 feet in front of my car. It was the loudest noise I’d ever heard and the windshield was splattered with tar. Like Lee Trevino, I thought I’d written my final newspaper column. This near miss left me with a tingling sensation on the left side of my body for several days, even though I was inside my car and not directly struck.
The safest place during an electrical storm is in your home. But stay away from open doors, fireplaces, pipes, metal sinks and telephones. Turn off all appliances and don’t use an electric toothbrush or razor. And never take laundry off a metal clothesline.
This summer more lives can be saved by following this rule. If you can count 30 seconds or less between a lightning flash and the crack of thunder, seek protection immediately. Then after the final lightning flash, don’t continue playing for another 30 minutes as many people have been killed by lightning after the storm seems to have ended.
Enjoy this summer safely minus 100,000,000 volts.
W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker’s website is: docgiff.com.
Dr. Walker can be reached at [firstname.lastname@example.org?bcc=letters@canadafree.