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If You're Hit by Lightning

Hearing, eyesight could be affected

(HealthDayNews) -- Lightning strikes kill some 200 people and injure another 750 annually in the U.S., according to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It's actually amazing that lightning doesn't cost more lives, given that some 100,000 thunderstorms strike the U.S. annually.

Well before a serious storm is due, you should be tuned to weather forecasts and warnings. Avoid going out in severe storms or even milder ones when lightning strikes are anticipated. If you are indoors, stay away from windows and off your phone. And take your computer offline, too, or risk having its components "fried".

If you are caught outside, says following these rules could save your life:

  • Learn how to judge how far away lightning is, and take shelter when it is within six miles of you. Count the seconds between the time you see lightning and hear thunder. Divide that number by 5. A five-second gap puts the lightning within that six-mile unsafe zone. Well before a storm is that close, if you're swimming or on a boat, head for shore!
  • Lightning is attracted to easy targets -- things taller or higher than others nearby -- so avoid high ground, solitary trees, open space and metallic objects, including motor vehicles.
  • If you are in a vehicle, avoid touching metal and keep all windows closed. Do not think that your tires will ground you! A lightning bolt's heat -- as much as 50,000 degrees F -- could boil those tires instantly!
  • Do not assume a storm is over when it seems to be: Give it a good half hour to clear your area.

If you are hit, or a lightning bolt strikes near you, you might suffer long- or short-term sight or hearing problems. If you recognize those symptoms, you've joined a pretty exclusive group of survivors who'll live on to tell the tale.

Consumer News