Close to 30 children at a children’s soccer match in Germany, and about 10 children at an outdoor birthday party in Paris, were reportedly injured when lightning struck this afternoon. A number of adults were also hurt. Some of the adults and children have suffered serious injuries and are being hospitalized.
Lightning Hits Paris Birthday Party
In Parc Monceau, an upscale park in Paris, France, party goers taking part in birthday celebrations took cover under a tree when a storm suddenly disturbed the festivities. One of the most dangerous places to be during a lightning storm is under a tree; the tree serves as a lightning rod since it is higher than its surroundings, it draws the electric current toward it and anything under the tree is in danger of electrocution. However, it appears the lightning was unexpected and the rains were very heavy, which explains why they huddled under the tree for cover.
— HuffPost UK (@HuffPostUK) May 28, 2016
The average age of the injured children was 9 years. Different reports give different numbers of victims. What is clear, however, is that at least 8 children and 3 adults were seriously harmed by the lightning. Off-duty fireman Pascal Gremillet was in the vicinity of the park and quickly arrived at the scene; he found 11 people lying on the ground. Gremillet gave them first aid and heart massages. Still, about four of those struck by the lightning remain in serious condition and are fighting for their lives. That number could have been higher had the fireman not run to the scene when he saw the lightning hit the park.
Almost 50 injured in lightning strikes in France and Germany this afternoon – https://t.co/qhZiPcMFRx
— 98FM (@98FM) May 28, 2016
Lightning Struck Referee as He Blew the Final Whistle of the Game
Toward the end of a children’s soccer match in western Germany, one of the referees, aged 45, was directly hit by lightning that seemed to come out of nowhere. 29 children were on the playing field. Some reports state none were hurt, but that they were taken to the hospital as a safety measure. In other reports, however, some children were experiencing an irregular heartbeat.
Lightning is Magnificent and Deadly
Lightning provides a beautiful display of the powers of nature. Sometimes those powers can be deadly.
— Houston News (@abc13houston) May 28, 2016
Some places in the United States, such as Florida, are more prone to lightning than others. There are, on average, about 49 lightning deaths a year in the USA. According to the Geoscience News and Information website, Florida is fourth in the world regarding frequency of lightning storms; Central Africa has the greatest electrical activity, followed by the Andes, the Himalayan region, Florida, the Argentinian Pampas region, and Indonesia. Just 2 weeks ago, about 64 people were killed in Bangladesh by a lightning storm.
You can check out this website to see where lightning storms are taking place in real time around the world.
Lightning storms, and hence lightning warnings, are most frequent in the summer, building up from May and reaching a peak in July. August sees a much lower rate of thunder and lightning storms than take place in July.
Lightning kills animals, as well as humans. There can be much property damage as well. Power lines and other constructions can be destroyed and buildings damaged. Airlines sometimes have to delay or reroute flights because of lightning storm warnings. Human fatalities from lightening have significantly decreased over the years because of the move from rural to urban areas, where large buildings offer better protection, improved medical interventions, and enhanced warning systems.
Best Practices During a Lightning Storm
To be safe, as soon as you hear thunder, you should run inside a building. Buildings are equipped with lightning rods and can withstand the electric surge even if they may suffer some damage. If you are in a car, you should remain in the car unless you can quickly run into a nearby building. Remain inside the building or car until a few minutes after the last thunder, in order to make sure the electric storm has come to an end.
It is important to stay indoors during an lightning storm. If you have no other option, lay down on the ground in order to prevent the lightning from striking you. Lay far from trees, because their roots can serve as conductors.
[Image via Pixabay]