Lightning Injuries in Sports
- 202 Downloads
There is no absolute protection against lightning because of its random and capricious nature. However, the risk of being struck by lightning can be substantially reduced.
There are general safety rules that apply to all athletic and recreational events. The athlete should have a proactive plan that can be instituted when storms approach. He/she should go to a safe shelter before the storm arrives and stay there until the danger is gone. Because the location, climate, terrain and playing site vary with different sporting activities, safety plans may have distinct elements for different recreational activities.
Mountain climbers should know the weather patterns of their locale. The highest frequency of lightning strikes in the Rocky Mountains occurs between 11am and 9pm during the months of April to September. There is less chance of a hiker encountering lightning during the early morning hours. Many tourists are unaware of this pattern, which may possibly explain the finding that most lightning victims are visitors from other states.
The bicyclist is as vulnerable as anyone in the open. In the event of lightning he/she should seek safe shelter and get off the bike. Rubber tires do not provide protection from lightning.
Golfers continue to make the same mistakes year after year. Golfers should know to seek safe shelter (clubhouse or closed metal vehicle) before the storm arrives and not return prematurely to the golf course. They should avoid isolated trees, open fields, unsafe sheds and metal poles. They should separate from each other rather than gather together.
Swimmers should get out of the pool and find a safe shelter. Safe areas do not include poolsides, under awnings or under trees. A nearby closed automobile may be the safest place until the danger is gone.
Applying precautions when engaging in these sporting or recreational activities will help to minimise the risk of casualties or fatalities caused by lightning.
KeywordsRocky Mountain Rubber Tire Lightning Strike Lightning Flash Flash Rate
- 2.Williams ER. The electrification of thunderstorms. Sci Am 1988 Nov: 88–99Google Scholar
- 5.Cherington M, Vervalin C. Lightning injuries: who is at greatest risk? Physician Sportsmed 1990; 18: 58–61Google Scholar
- 8.Kithil R. Man’s understanding of lightning; from early days to present. Am Weather Observer 1993 Aug: 9–11Google Scholar
- 9.Holle RL, Lopez RE, Zimmermann C. Updated recommendations for lightning safety 1998. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 1999; 80: 2035–41Google Scholar
- 11.Bennett BL. A model lightning safety policy for athletics. J Athletic Training 1997; 32: 251–3Google Scholar
- 12.Cherington M, Walker J, Boyson M, et al. Closing the gap on the actual numbers of lightning casualties and deaths. Eleventh Conference of Applied Climatology; 1999 Jan 10–15; Dallas. Boston: American Meteorological Society, 1999: 379–80Google Scholar
- 13.Danger during thunderstorms. Northern Territories Emergency Serices [online]. Available from URL: http://www.nt.gov.au/pfes/es/lightning.htm [Accessed 2001 Jan 19]
- 14.Elsom DM. Surviving being struck by lightning: a preliminary assessment of the risk of lightning injuries and death in the British Isles. J Meteorol 1996; 21: 197–206Google Scholar
- 18.Cherington M, Yarnell PR. Lightning injuries and fatalities in the Rocky Mountains. In: Saha S, editor. Transactions of the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the Society for Physical Regulation in Biology and Medicine; 1996 Oct 9–12; Chicago. Baltimore: Society for Physical Regulation in Biology and Medicine, 1996: 78Google Scholar
- 24.Connor D. Marshals must aid fans if lightning approaches. Denver Post 1991 Jun 14; 1D, 6DGoogle Scholar
- 28.Vincent GM, McPeak H. Commotio cordis. Physician Sportsmed 2000; 11: 31–9Google Scholar
- 32.Milarsky J. Lightning likely hit the water, not boys. Sun-Sentinel, South Florida 2000 Jun 10: 1A, 14AGoogle Scholar
- 36.Becker WJ. Boating-lightning protection. Florida: Cooperative Extension Service, 1992Google Scholar
- 37.Edelstein J, Peters W, Cartotto R. Lightning injury: a review and case presentations. Can J Plast Surg 1994; 2: 164–8Google Scholar