Lightning Strike Survivors

By: Stacy Eckes
By: Stacy Eckes

The thought of severe weather brings back haunting memories for a young Wisconsin couple. Just last weekend, their lives were almost cut short when they were struck by lightning.

Eighteen-year-old Danielle James and her boyfriend Brandon Wilson are recovering at home after spending several days in the hospital.

The two were sleeping in a tent at the Rock Dam Campground in Clark County when lightning struck a nearby tree.

"I thought I was on fire. I couldn't move my left side and it just hurt," said Brandon Wilson.

But Danielle stopped breathing and Brandon's cousin who is a nurse started C.P.R. She was unconscious for 14 hours before coming out of a coma. Although she feels grateful to be alive, recent storms have Danielle very fearful.

"I was really scared last night. I was balling. I don't want to be outside when it's lightning out," said Danielle James.

Remarkably, neither of the teens has any burn marks as a result of the lightning strike, but, they say they are very sore and emotionally drained from the experience.

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Lightning Safety Tips

  • When a thunderstorm carrying heavy lighting occurs, staying indoors is your safest solution.

  • If caught outside, do not stand underneath a tall isolated tree or on a hill top. Find the lowest place, such as a ravine or valley.

  • Stay away from open water, wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes and rails.

  • Lightning may strike many miles from the parent cloud. Precautions should be taken even though the thunderstorm is not directly overhead.

  • If you are caught in a level field or prairie far from shelter and if you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to strike you. Drop to your knees and bend forward, putting you hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

First Aid for Lightning strikes

  • Persons struck by lightning receive a severe electrical shock and may be burned, but they carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.

  • Someone who appears to have been killed by lightning often can be revived by prompt action. When a group has been struck, the apparently "dead" should be treated first.

  • The American Red Cross says that if a victim is not breathing, you should immediately begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, once every 5 seconds to adults and once every 3 seconds to infants and small children, until medical help arrives.

Fact Vs. Myth
  • Myth: Lightning Never Strikes the same place twice.
    Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly.

  • Myth: If it’s not raining, I am safe from lightning.
    Fact: Lightning often strikes over three miles form the thunderstorm, far outside the rain.

  • Myth: Rubber tires protect you from lightning in a car by insulating you from the ground.
    Fact: It is not the tires that protect you, rather it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you.

  • Myth: If in the house, I am safe from lightning.
    Fact: While a house is a good place for lightning safety, it isn’t enough. You must also avoid any conducting path leading outside, such as cored telephones, plumbing, electrical appliance, wires, TV cables, metal doors or window frames, or windows.

    Source: Oahu Civil Defense Agency contributed to this report.


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