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Treating a lightning strike victim: Know how to help


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In 2013, 23 lightning-related fatalities occurred in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Although lightning can be deadly, NOAA notes that 90 percent of lightning-strike victims survive. If you witnessed a worker being struck by lightning, would you know how to help?

Providing first aid to a victim of a lightning strike can potentially save the victim’s life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is safe to help a person struck by lightning – a victim will not carry any charge. To provide first aid, CDC recommends you:

  • Get help. Call 911 right away on a cell phone (they are safe to use in a storm). Provide pertinent information, including your location and where the victim was struck.
  • Evaluate the situation. Are you and the victim still in danger? Remaining in a high-risk area (such as a field) can be hazardous. Move the victim to a safer location if possible. Unless he or she fell or was thrown a large distance by the strike, it should be safe to move the victim.
  • Respond. Lightning strikes often cause heart attacks. Check to see if the victim is breathing.
  • Provide resuscitation. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If you cannot find a pulse, begin chest compressions. Continue resuscitation attempts until medical help arrives.