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 ~ National Lightning Safety Institute ~

Section 4.3

Information for Lightning Strike Victims

The electrical characteristics of lightning involve a complexity of current amplitudes and time durations. An 8 kA strike with 20 us duration acts differently than a 200 kA strike with a 300 us duration. The surfaces to which lightning attaches are manifold in their resistance, impedance, moisture-content and conductivity characteristics. A person wearing a wet raiNLSIcker will suffer different lightning effects than the same person in a dry bathing suit.

Eighty percent of lightning strike victims survive. But twenty five percent of survivors suffer major aftereffects. (Social and Economic Costs) Many of the aftereffects of lightning are difficult for inexperienced medical professionals to characterize. Sometimes lightning victims’ symptoms are dismissed as "fakery, whining, and imagination" by responsible agencies. Sometimes valid claims for workers compensation or other insurance are denied in error.

NLSI proposes that safety from lightning’s effects is a function of understanding the phenomenon and adopting a risk management approach to the hazard. We describe herein resource material from the medical and university communities dealing with some physiological and psychological issues of lightning casualties. As a first step to understanding lightning injuries, we suggest a study of the resources listed below.

  1. Lightning and Electrical Injuries, Parts 1 & 2, Seminars in Neurology, Vol. 15, No. 3 & 4 (Sept. & Dec. 1995), Ed. Cherington & Cooper. ISSN No. 0271-8235.
  2. Handbook of Electrical Hazards and Accidents, Leslie A. Geddes, CRC Press, ISBN No. 0-8493-9431-7.
  3. Lightning Injuries: Electrical, Medical, and Legal Aspects, Ed. Andrews, Cooper, Darveniza, & Mackerras, CRC Press, ISBN No. 0-8493-5458-7.
  4. Information:
  5. Lightning Data Center (LDC), Centura Health Care, Denver CO. LDC is a multi-facet informal group of professionals interested in lightning phenomena. LDC meets monthly. International newsletter. Tel. 303-629-4258. Email at:
  6. Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors International (LSESSI), Jacksonville, NC. LSESSI is a membership and support group for lightning victims. Annual meeting. Newsletter. Tel. 910-346-4708. Email at: WWW site at:
  7. Mary Ann Cooper, MD, Univ. Illinois at Chicago. WWW site at:

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National Lightning Safety Institute
Providing expert training and consulting for lightning problems