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Name: John Rheineck
Status: Educator
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 


Question:
What warning signs are there before lightning is close to striking a person?
What are the typical effects of a lightning strike on a person if he or she lives?
Thanks,
John



Replies:
Dear John-

Lightning most times gives no warning before striking, or, if there is any indication, it is just a second or two before the discharge takes place.

But sometimes there is a few seconds warning. The most noticable effect is a buildup of positive charge in your body, and your hair may stand on end. Even in some cases small sparking discharges from the fingers has been noted. If a person starts feeling these simptoms, they should fall to the ground immediately, to try to place themselves lower than any other object in the vicinity. Lightning usually follows the discharge path of least resistance, which usually is the highest point in the area.

The most noted effects of lightning strikes on people is skin or internal organs burns. The heartbeat rhythm can be interrupted by the electricity flowing through the body. Clothes can be ripped off the person, and shoes can literally be blown off the feet.

Thunderstorms always contain lightning, and precautions should be taken near thunderstorms. Lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes do.

Wendell Bechtold, Meteorologist
Weather Forecast Office
St. Louis, MO



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