The other night on Discovery Channel, two women were interviewed who had been struck by lightning. One was walking along, minding her own business, when suddenly she said, the world appeared to turn white in front of her and her skin became incredibly hot. The other woman was sitting on a beach with her feet dug deeply into the sand when she was struck by an unexpected bolt of lightning.
Pictures of the first woman were shown while she was in the hospital. Her skin everywhere had turned bright red as if she had an intense sunburn. She told the interviewer that all of her skin ended up peeling off. They also showed a picture of a spidery pattern that appeared on her back, similar to one shown from this other website. (http://dangthatscool.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/lightning-flowers.jpg)
It is amazing that she and the man in this photo survived as 30 percent of people struck by lightning die and 70 percent have some permanent residual damage. The scientists on the show explained what happens when person is struck by lightning and how our skin can help one survive being hit.
How lightning works:
During a storm, moisture accumulates to form clouds. Updrafts and downdrafts of air cause cooling. Ice particles form and a static electric charge builds up similar to what happens when you rub the carpet in your house as you walk in your socks.
In the clouds, the charges separate so that the positively charged particles rise to the top and the negatively charged ones drop to the bottom. In the right conditions, the negative charged particles are attracted to positively charged tall objects on the earth such as trees, buildings and sometimes people and strike the object with a tremendous release of heat and energy.
How lightning causes injury:
● Direct strike: occurs when the person is outside holding or wearing a metal object i.e. an umbrella or even a hairpin in one’s hair.
● Flash discharge: can occur from being in close contact to the lightning current as it strucks something else. This can happen if a person is standing under a tree that is struck by lightning