Lightning Strike


In general, if you have no symptoms and a normal ECG, you may be sent home with a referral to any specialists if needed.

The doctor will treat those injuries that are discovered on the physical examination.

  • Head injury indicated by a loss of consciousness and or confusion is frequently treated by observation in the hospital.
  • Possible injury to the heart that shows up on an abnormal ECG or in blood enzyme levels is usually managed in the hospital by observation and medicine if needed.
  • Ear and eye injuries are treated as needed with referral to an appropriate specialist.
  • Keraunoparalysis is usually temporary but may require observation in the hospital.
  • Spine injuries usually require hospitalization for observation or surgical stabilization.
  • Broken bones may be treated with splinting or may require surgery.
  • Symptoms of nerve injury (numbness, tingling) can generally be monitored by a neurologist

Lightning is consistently among the top five weather-related killers.

  • In typical years past, lightning killed more people in the United States than any other natural disaster (with the exception of flash floods), including tornadoes.
  • Most people killed or injured by lightning are outside doing recreational activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, or playing sports.
  • Others are working outdoors at construction jobs. Farmers are often struck, too.

What are the different kinds of lightning strikes?

Injury from a lightning strike may occur in any of these ways:

  • Direct strike: Lightning directly strikes a person.
  • Contact strike: A person is touching an object (such as a tree or pole) that has been struck by lightning.
  • Side splash: Lightning jumps from the primary strike object on its way to the ground.
  • Ground strike: Lightning strikes the ground and the current spreads out in a circle from that spot.
  • Blunt injury: A person is thrown violently from the lightning strike or from the explosive force that occurs as surrounding air is superheated and rapidly cooled.
  • Upward streamer: When a low-energy electrical charge streams upward to meet a downward leader, it may carry enough current to cause electrical injury even if it does not connect with the downward current to complete the lightning strike.