Lightning strikes cause more deaths than all other weather-related phenomena other than floods. The National Weather Service recorded 3,239 deaths and 9,818 injuries from lightning strikes between 1959 and 1994, and interestingly, males accounted for 84% of the fatalities and 82% of the injuries. Two possible explanations for this could be that 1) Males typically spend more time outside golfing when storms are about to hit and 2) Males are taller than females on average, making them a better target for electrical death from above.

Being struck by lightning would not be an experience to strive for. The average lightning strike delivers 300 kilovolts into your body in the period of a few milliseconds. The victim will sustain deep burns at the point of contact, in the case of lightning strikes, these burns are usually on the head, neck, and shoulders. If the victim dies immediately, the cause is usually cardiac arrest or cardiopulmonary arrest. Other causes of lightning deaths are asystole/ventricular fibrillation, inhibition of brainstem respiratory centers, and the vaguely termed multi-system failure which causes delayed death.

Even if one survives a lightning strike, there are many effects that the survivor will have to live with, including neurological and psychiatric problems that may not show up until much later. Some of these include: post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep and memory disorders, concentration disturbances, irritability, depression, Spinal cord injury, temporary paralysis, coma, and amnesia. Auditory and visual systems may also be damaged. Bottom line? You're not likely to walk away from a lightning strike.

Want to avoid a lightning strike? Well, don't golf in Florida at 4 PM, for starters. If you're outdoors during a lightning storm, avoid water, high ground, metal objects, and open spaces. Canopies, small picnic shelters, porches, gazeebos, and trees are NOT safe shelters from lightning, a shelter should be fully enclosed. If lightning is striking nearby, crouch down with your feet together and hands over your ears, at least 15 feet away from another person. It's probably best not to run around in a panic in your open field waving your golf clubs above your head. Just a hint.


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