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How do I care for someone who has been struck by lightning?

If you come upon someone struck by lightning, first check to make sure the danger of lighting has passed. Next, activate emergency personnel. Do not move the person unless he is in danger. Then check for breathing and pulse. Begin CPR, if needed, and keep cycles going until further help arrives. If there is extra assistance for the rescuer, assess victim and treat for signs of shock, hypothermia, fractures, or burns.

Signs of shock are low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, cool, clammy, mottled skin and rapid shallow breathing

Treatment of shock: if no injury to lower limbs, elevate legs above the head. Keep patient warm and continue to monitor breathing and pulse.

Signs of hypothermia: shivering, pale with possible bluish tinge, confusion.

Treatment of hypothermia: slow re-warming using warm blankets, clothing, or warm water bottles.

(This answer provided for NATA by Julie Carpenter, ATC, LAT.)
  • Immediately perform CPR, if needed.
  • Give care for any injuries, as needed, including care for thermal burns.
  • Be ready to care for other conditions, such as hypothermia, in a wet, injured person.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.