3 in Northland Struck by Lightning, Dangers of Severe Storms

Tips to Stay Safe in Severe Storms

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By the time you hear the first crack of thunder experts say you should get indoors.

This warning comes after three Northlanders were struck by lightning Sunday afternoon.

The victims are still recovering at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth.

51-year-old Jay Mott of Virginia is in critical condition.

He was struck by lightning while carrying his 4-year-old daughter, Ava, at a baseball game near Cherry.

Ava is listed in fair condition.

Here in Duluth 12-year-old Nathan Burke was also hit by lightning at Enger Park Golf Course.

Burke’s condition has improved from critical to stable.

Experts tell Fox21 three victims of lightning strikes within a day is extremely rare.

The chance of getting hit is 1 in 700,000.

Although the emergency room may be the last place you want to end up it is better than the alternative, as the National Weather Service said in 2015 so far, 13 people across the nation have been killed by lightning strikes.

“When thunder roars go indoors,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Carol Christenson.

Gusty winds, thunderous booms and a heavy down pour are just parts of a severe storm.

“Every thunderstorm has lightning and the potential of coming down and striking you or near you,” said Christenson.

You may be curious as to what actually happens to your body during a lightning strike.

“It’s an electrical current. It can spread across your skin and spread burns. It can enter and travel up nerves which, is the most common pathway,” said St. Luke’s Emergency Physician Cynthia Lonneman.

The bolt can also cause blindness, affect your muscles and tendons and even cause your heart to stop beating.

“Nationally I believe 49 people die every year from lightning strikes,” said Christenson.

If you see someone struck by lightning a sense of urgency is necessary.

Experts advise you to not be afraid to touch the victim.

“You’re not going to get electrical on you from that person by approaching them,” said Dr. Lonneman.

“If someone gets struck by lightning it’s very important that you administer CPR immediately,” said Christenson.

If you find yourself stuck outdoors during a storm, avoid being the tallest object.

“Not laying on the ground, but squatting close to the ground to keep some contact off the ground and if you have a backpack or a sleeping pad to put that under your feet,” advised Dr. Lonneman.

The best advice is the simplest: if you hear thunder stay indoors, that means lightning is within range of striking you.

This isn’t the first time someone has been harmed by lightning in the Northland. An Iron River boy died in 2012 after being struck by lightning on Lake Superior. 

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