The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) recently announced on May 2022 the onset of rainy season especially in Metro Manila and Western parts of the country. This entails significant cases of mortality in the Philippines and abroad due to detrimental lightning strikes.
This issue has been brought to light by Dr. Willie Ong on one of his YouTube videos. According to his discussion, there are about 2000 cases of deaths caused by lightning strike in India annually and around 70 in USA. The Philippines also reported several recent cases of deaths because of lightning: in Pangasinan 2 people were killed, in Negros Occidental there were 1 dead and 3 hurt, while Bacolod City tallied 10 farmworkers hurt by lightning strike.
A thunderstorm advisory will be issued by PAG-ASA when there is an indication that a thunderstorm is threatening a specific area(s) within the next 2 hours. The updates will be issued as frequent as necessary and disseminated via SMS, social media, and website. When this occur, it is best to cancel outside plans and stay at home for your safety.
Susceptible Area of Lightning Strike
Lightning usually strikes farmland or tallest object. The very reason why most of the highest building had lightning rods installed. Standing in an open field imposed a high chance of getting struck by lightning. Additionally, when cable wires were hit by a lightning and short-circuited, the folks inside the attached house due to electrical wirings and metals will be electrocuted 500 times more powerful than an electricity per se.
Based on the USA statistics from 2006 to 2016 (NOAA), it implies that 64% of lightning fatalities are outdoor recreation, a large portion of these are from water activities and sports and they are as follow: fishing (38), beach (23), camping (19), farming/ranching (19), boating (17), motorcycle/ATV (16), social gathering (16), walk to/from home (14), construction (14), soccer (12), yardwork (12), roofing (11), and lastly golf (10). The percentage shows that 80% of the victims are men, while 20% are women.
General Tips to Avoid Lightning Strike
Getting struck by a lightning could either hurt you or worst case scenario lead to your death. Are there preventive measures that can be done? Yes, let’s take it from health expert Dr. Willie Ong. If you don’t know him, he’s a Filipino internist and cardiologist who shares health tips for everyone. Below are the tips he mentioned in his vlog as he warned the public to stay vigilant and knowledgeable about this issue. As Kuya Kim Atienza always said, “Ligtas ang may alam.”
Tip 1: Stay off of landline telephones with a cord.
Turn off and stay away from wired electronics. Using electronic devices that plug into the wall is dangerous during a lightning storm.
Tip 2: Never take a shower or bath during a storm.
Lightning can travel through plumbing. It is best to avoid all water during a thunderstorm.
Tip 3: Avoid windows and doors.
Do NOT lie on concrete floors or lean on concrete walls during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
Tip 4: Don’t touch any electrical equipment. Unplug electronics before storm.
Avoid using TVs, washing machines and corded phones, during thunderstorms.
Tip 1: Avoid tall isolated trees.
Lightning often strikes the tallest objects in the area.
Tip 2: Stay out of open areas like fields or a hill top.
Avoid open field or any hilltops. Look for a low-lying area like a valley or ravine, preferably obscured from the rain.
Tip 3: Stay away from water, wet items and metal objects.
Avoid swimming or watersports on rainy days.
Tip 4: Spread out if you are in a group to minimize injury.
This will reduce the number of injuries if lightning strikes the ground.
Tip 5: Only get in a car if it’s a hardtop and you can pull up the window.
Run to your vehicle for safety. Place your hands in your lap. Most cars are safe from lightning, but the metal exterior are not safe to touch.
Correct position of the body of man against threats lightning strike in storm
At this position, it is important to:
- Have heels together
- Body weight transfer as possible to the balls of the feet
- Do not touch any parts of the body earth
- Lay head as low as possible, pointing out the flash head
- Lay hands on ears
- Put tour elbows close together
Lightning strike treatment
- Resuscitation of the victim (restoring cardiac and respiratory)
- Call for technical assistance
- Treatment of burns and other injuries
- Implementation of anti-shock measures
Although not all cases of lightning mortality have been reported in the news, it is our duty to stay informed about safety precautions in case the same scenario will happen to us. As many commonly said, prevention is always better than cure.