During his eight years as a weather-tracking specialist, meteorologist Jim Campbell has heard his share of misconceptions about electrical storms. He separates fact from fiction:
FACT: If you are on the road when a storm hits, your car is the best place to wait it out. The vehicle's metal shell diverts the lightning's killing amperage. You may continue driving or park the car, but not near a tree.
FICTION: It's the car's rubber tires that provide the protection, as do rubber-soled shoes. Rubber, says Campbell, does not act as a grounder.
FICTION: As long as you seek shelter under a tall tree, it's safe to be out in a lightning storm. Lightning is attracted to the highest point on its path to the ground and that is likely to be a tree. If it strikes the tree, it is also likely to strike the person under, in, or near the tree.
FACT: Talking on the phone during a lightning storm can be dangerous to your health. One percent of all lightning deaths, says Campbell, occur when a telephone pole is hit and the current runs into the phone wiring of a house -- and right up into the receiver.
FICTION: A person struck by lightning carries an electrical charge and should not be touched. While such a victim may receive a severe electrical shock and even be burned, he carries NO charge and can be handled safely.
The American Red Cross says that if a victim is not breathing and appears to be dead, prompt action may completely revive the individual. First aid should be rendered immediately to prevent irrevocable brain damage.
Give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation once every five seconds to adults and once every three seconds to infants and small children, until medical help arrives. If the victim is not breathing and has no pulse, cardiopulmonary resuscitation -- a combination of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and external medical compression -- is necessary.
Victims who appear only stunned or otherwise unhurt may also need attention. Check for burns, especially at fingers and toes, and next to buckles and jewelry.