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- Lightning is a discharge of energy that occurs cloud to cloud (90%) or cloud to ground (10%).
- Exposure to lightning:
- Brief duration (1–100 msec)
- Typically occurs during outdoor activity
- Highest incidence in summer months, between 3 and 6 PM
- Fatality rate of 8–10%
- Mechanism of injury—electrical:
- Direct strike (5%)
- Contact potential (15–25%):
- Current passes through an object the victim is touching.
- Side splash (20–30%):
- Current jumps from nearby object to the victim.
- Earth potential rise/ground current (40–50%):
- Current moves through the ground surface and may injure multiple victims.
- Current moves through hard-wired telephone lines, metallic pipes, or a structure's electrical equipment, causing lightning injury to victims indoors.
- Upward streamer (10–15%):
- Negatively charged lightning strikes from a cloud and induces positive current from the ground to rise and meet it to complete the lightning channel.
- Mechanism of injury—trauma:
- Blunt trauma:
- Muscle contractions can throw the victim and/or cause a fall.
- Thermal burn