Lightning Strike: Understanding the Impact on the Human Body


Lightning strikes are a fascinating yet dangerous natural phenomenon that can have severe consequences for those unfortunate enough to be struck. In this article, we will delve into the science behind lightning strikes and explore the effects they have on the human body. To shed light on this topic, we have consulted with a renowned neurologist who will explain the intricate details of what happens in the body during a lightning strike.

The Power of Lightning

Lightning is a powerful discharge of electricity that occurs during a thunderstorm. It is estimated that lightning strikes the Earth’s surface around 100 times every second, resulting in approximately 1.4 billion lightning flashes per year. The energy released during a lightning strike can reach temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun and can travel at speeds of up to 220,000 miles per hour.

How Lightning Strikes Affect the Body

When a person is struck by lightning, the electrical current from the strike can cause a range of injuries and physiological effects. Let’s explore some of the key ways in which lightning strikes impact the human body:


The most immediate and obvious effect of a lightning strike is electrocution. The high voltage current from the lightning can pass through the body, causing severe burns and tissue damage. The severity of the electrocution depends on factors such as the intensity of the strike and the path the current takes through the body.

Cardiac Arrest

One of the most dangerous consequences of a lightning strike is the potential to induce cardiac arrest. The electrical current can disrupt the normal rhythm of the heart, leading to a sudden stoppage of its pumping action. Immediate medical attention is crucial in such cases to restore the heart’s normal function.

Neurological Effects

Lightning strikes can have profound effects on the nervous system. The electrical current can interfere with the transmission of signals between nerve cells, leading to a range of neurological symptoms. These may include temporary paralysis, loss of consciousness, memory loss, and difficulty with coordination and balance.

Burns and Thermal Injuries

Due to the intense heat generated by a lightning strike, burns and thermal injuries are common among survivors. The lightning’s heat can cause clothing to catch fire and result in severe burns. Additionally, the rapid expansion of air surrounding the lightning channel can create a shockwave, leading to blast injuries.

Long-Term Effects

While some lightning strike survivors may recover fully from their injuries, others may experience long-term effects. These can include chronic pain, muscle weakness, cognitive impairments, and psychological trauma. Rehabilitation and ongoing medical care are often necessary to manage these long-term effects.

Seeking Medical Attention

If someone is struck by lightning, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention, even if they appear to be unharmed. Internal injuries and delayed symptoms can occur, and a thorough medical evaluation is necessary to ensure the person’s well-being. Prompt medical intervention can significantly improve the chances of a positive outcome.

Preventing Lightning Strikes

While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of lightning strikes, there are precautions that individuals can take to minimize their chances of being struck:

Seek Shelter

When thunderstorms are approaching, it is essential to seek shelter in a sturdy building or a fully enclosed vehicle. Avoid open areas, tall objects, and bodies of water, as these increase the risk of being struck by lightning.

Avoid Conductive Surfaces

During a thunderstorm, it is advisable to avoid contact with conductive surfaces such as metal fences, electrical appliances, and plumbing fixtures. These can conduct electricity and increase the likelihood of being struck.

Stay Indoors

If you are indoors during a thunderstorm, it is best to stay away from windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Lightning can travel through these pathways and pose a risk of injury.

Postpone Outdoor Activities

When thunderstorms are forecasted, it is wise to postpone outdoor activities until the storm has passed. Engaging in activities such as hiking, swimming, or golfing during a thunderstorm significantly increases the chances of being struck by lightning.


Lightning strikes are a powerful force of nature that can have devastating effects on the human body. From electrocution and cardiac arrest to neurological damage and thermal injuries, the impact of a lightning strike can be life-altering. Understanding the risks associated with lightning strikes and taking appropriate precautions can help minimize the chances of being struck and mitigate the potential harm. Remember, when it comes to lightning, it is always better to be safe than sorry.