The Dangers Of Lightning

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- It`s one of the most deadly parts of severe weather.  No one can say for sure how many lightening strike deaths there are because it`s difficult to know.

Mercy Emergency Physician Edward Ferguson says a lightening strike can hit 50 yards away from a victim and still cause a shock.

He says some victims likely die after cardiac arrest without anyone ever knowing a nearby lightning strike was to blame.

He says the safest places to be are inside a home or a car.

'The exterior of the car channels the energy,' explains Dr. Ferguson. 'There may be a loud crash, it may be unpleasant but there`s never been a report of a death from a lightning strike to a car.'

Athletic leagues throughout the area have varying policies when it comes to lightening.  John Bell is the Athletics Director for the city of Bridgeton.

'No games are worth the danger that lightening presents,' said Bell.  He recalled working near Chicago where a park was renamed for 7 year old child who was struck and killed by lightening.

'A soccer coach wanted to continue his practice, not even a game, a practice when lightening was in the area,' said Bell.

Dr. Ferguson says some lightening victims are struck while taking shelter under a park pavilion.

'There`s no electrical or plumbing in their shelters usually, and that`s what protects us in the homes.'

That same plumbing can also be dangerous during a lightening storm.  One plumber was recently struck by lightening while working inside a building.

Dr. Ferguson also advises anyone to stay away from water and off a land-line phone during a storm.

He says seek shelter whenever you hear thunder.

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