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DateLine Sunday, 6 April 2008





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

When thunder roars, go indoors!

A single stroke of lightning has 125,000,000 volts of electricity. That’s enough power to light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months, or enough to seriously hurt or to kill someone. Lightning is something you should not be careless about.

A total of eight people have been killed by lightning during the last three months. The latest victims were Army soldiers at the Katukaliyawa Army Training Centre in Polonnaruwa, where four of them died and over 65 have been injured.

The lightning had occurred in an area where there wasn’t much rain but lightning and thunder in plenty. Lightning - The underrated killer, is a serious danger and the only weapon against this ‘demon’ is the awareness ‘what to do’ when the sky is roaring.

A lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest (heart stoppage) at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage.

People struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression, and an inability to sit for long.

Lightning tends to be a nervous system injury and may affect the brain, autonomic nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. When the brain is affected, the person often has difficulty with short-term memory, coding new information and accessing old information, multitasking, distractibility, irritability and personality change.

Another common, often delayed, problem for some survivors is pain, also difficult to quantify and manage. The pain may not be from chronic intense headaches but may be in the back (perhaps from compression and disc injury from the intense muscle contractions which may throw a person several yards at the time of the injury), or in an extremity.

Some may have nerve entrapment syndromes and a small number may eventually develop Sympathetically Mediated Pain Syndrome.

Here are some frequently asked questions.

Safe shelter

A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from lightning. In assessing the safety provided by a particular structure, it is more important to consider what happens if the structure gets struck by lightning, rather than whether the structure will be hit by lightning.

For a shelter to provide protection from lightning, it must contain a mechanism for conducting the electrical current from the point of contact to the ground.

These mechanisms may be on the outside of the structure, may be contained within the walls of the structure, or may be a combination of the two.

On the outside, lightning can travel along the outer shell of the building or may follow metal gutters and downspouts to the ground. Inside a structure, lightning can follow conductors such as the electrical wiring, plumbing, and telephone lines to the ground.

Avoiding unsafe shelters

Unless specifically designed to be lightning safe, small structures do little, if anything, to protect occupants from lightning. Many small open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, parks, roadside picnic areas, schoolyards and elsewhere are designed to protect people from rain and sun, but not lightning.

A shelter that does not contain plumbing or wiring throughout, or some other mechanism for grounding from the roof to ground is not safe. Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds offer little or no protection from lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.

Examples of buildings which are unsafe include car ports, covered but open garages, covered patio, picnic shelters, beach shacks/pavilions, golf shelters, camping tents, large outdoor tents, baseball dugouts and other small buildings such as sheds and greenhouses that do not have electricity or plumbing.

Safe vehicles

A safe vehicle is a hard-topped car, SUV, minivan, bus, tractor, etc. (soft-topped convertibles are not safe) . If you seek shelter in your vehicle, make sure all doors are closed and windows rolled up. Do not touch any metal surfaces.

If you’re driving when a thunderstorm starts, pull off the roadway. A lightning flash hitting the vehicle could startle you and cause temporary blindness, especially at night.

Do not use electronic devices such as HAM radios during a thunderstorm. Lightning striking the vehicle, especially the antennas, could cause serious injury if you are talking on the radio or holding the microphone at the time of the flash. Emergency officials such as police officers, firefighters, security officers, etc., should use extreme caution using radio equipment when lightning is in the area.

Your vehicle and its electronics may be damaged if hit by lightning. Vehicles struck by lightning are known to have flat tyres the next day. This occurs because the lightning punctures tiny holes in the tyres. Vehicles have caught fire after being struck by lightning; however, there is no modern day documented cases of vehicles “exploding” due to a lightning flash.

Bolts from the Blue

There are times when a lightning flash can travel horizontally many miles away from the thunderstorm cloud itself and then strike the ground. These types of lightning flashes are called “Bolts from the Blue” because they seem to come out of a clear blue sky. Although these flashes are rare, they have been known to cause fatalities.

j Seek safe shelter when you first hear thunder, see dark threatening clouds developing overhead or lightning. Count the seconds between the time you see lightning and hear the thunder. You should already be in a safe location if that time is less than 30 seconds. Stay inside until 30 minutes after you last hear thunder.

If lightning is in the immediate area, and there is no safe location nearby, stay at least 15 feet apart from other members of your group so the lightning won’t travel between you if hit. Keep your feet together and sit on the ground out in the open.

If you can possibly run to a vehicle or building. Do so. Sitting or crouching on the ground is not safe and should be a last resort if a enclosed building or vehicle is not available.

* Do NOT seek shelter under tall isolated trees. The tree may help you stay dry but will significantly increase your risk of being struck by lightning. Rain will not kill you, but the lightning can!

* Do NOT seek shelter under partially enclosed buildings

* Stay away from tall, isolated objects. Lightning typically strikes the tallest object. That may be you in an open field or clearing.

* Know the weather forecast. If there is a high chance of thunderstorms, curtail your outdoor activities.

* Wet ropes can make excellent conductors. This is BAD news when it comes to lightning activity. If you are mountain climbing and see lightning, and can do so safely, remove unnecessary ropes extended or attached to you.

If a rope is extended across a mountain face and lightning makes contact with it, the electrical current will likely travel along the rope, especially if it is wet.

* Stay away from metal objects, such as fences, poles and backpacks. Metal is an excellent conductor. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long.How to protect when on a bicycle or motorcycle?

* If you see threatening skies in the distance and you are passing a safe location, pull over and wait 30 minutes after the last thunder crack.

* If you can turn around and get away from the storm, do so!

* DO NOT ride into a lighting storm! If you absolutely cannot get to a safe building or vehicle, here are some last resort choices:

* Wait out the storm below an overpass. DO NOT touch steel girders. Move away from your bike. Remain on dry surfaces if possible. Overpasses are engineered structures and are likely to be properly grounded. Although an overpass is likely to be higher than the surrounding landscape, if it is struck by lightning, the electrical current will likely be channelled safely into the ground.

* Look for a bridge. Stay away from water. Stay away from any metal surfaces. Be alert for rapidly rising water if under a bridge.

* High tension wires: If high voltage electrical tension wires cross the road, you may want to seek shelter directly underneath these wires. Do not get too close to the large metal towers which hold up these wires.

Stay at least 50 feet away. Electric companies design these high tension wires for lightning strikes. If lighting should strike the wires or towers, the current is designed to safely go deep into the ground.

* If you are caught in the open and lightning is occurring within 5 miles, STOP riding, get off of your motorcycle/bicycle, find a ditch or other low spot and sit down.

* Motorcyclists should move at least 50 feet away from their bike. Bicyclist should lay their bikes on the ground.

Safety rules:

1. Stay or go indoors! If you hear thunder, don’t go outside unless absolutely necessary. Remember, by counting the seconds between the flash and the thunder and dividing by 5, you can estimate your distance from the strike (in miles).

2. Stay away from anything that could conduct electricity. This includes fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks, and phones.

3. Don’t use any plug-in electrical appliances like hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, or electric razors. If lightning strikes your house they can conduct the charge to you.

4. Don’t use the telephone during the storm. Lightning may strike telephone lines outside.

5. Stay in your automobile if you are travelling. Automobiles give you excellent lightning protection.

6. Don’t use metal objects outside, like fishing rods and golf clubs. Golfers wearing cleated shoes are really good lightning rods.

7. Get out of the water. This includes getting off small boats on the water.

8. If you’re outdoors, seek shelter from lightning! Buildings are best for shelter, but if no buildings are available, you can find protection in a cave, ditch, or a canyon. Trees are not good cover! Tall trees attract lightning.

9. If you can’t find shelter, avoid the tallest object in the area. If only isolated trees are nearby, your best protection is to crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from isolated trees as the trees are high.

10. When you feel the electrical charge — if your hair stands on end or your skin tingles — lightning may be about to strike you. Drop to the ground immediately!

Safety tips at home

1. Avoid contact with corded phones

2. Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.

3. Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.

4. Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.

5. Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.


Keep stress away

Comes April, the Humor Month

It is time to welcome the ‘Humor Month’ and also understand that relaxed learners learn more. So if you are tense about the stressful learning creating pressure on your brain then it is also the time to remember that you should not take learning too seriously.

Ms. Kathy Laurenhue, the author of ‘Brain Aerobics Weekly’ suggests this in his downloadable subscription base online magazine.

Forgetfulness is generally increased when people are stressed. Stress also cause increase in risks of accidents. Those who are suffering from such problems and are older as well usually start worrying that this would be a permanent problem with them. These people begin to believe that their brain is deteriorating.

Visiting to the doctors in such cases worsens the problem further. Doctors normally ask these people to solve crossword puzzles or to learn a foreign language. In case these people are not good at solving these puzzle or completing language tasks they again feel even more stressed. “There is even a new pop culture term for such people: the ‘worried well”, says Ms. Kathy Laurenhue.

“Do something you love or something that makes you laughs”, suggests Ms. Laurenhue. Making new dendrites, the little branches in your brain that make you capable of reaching out to more activities and more connections, would be the best alternative. One should always remember that every time someone is learning new it is also making new connections simultaneously.

“Human is great for that”, wrote Ms. Laurenhue and April is the best time to reach for such humorous feelings. Looking at something which is very funny simply means that you are looking at it in a new manner. Ms. Laurenhue quotes an example of Steven Wright who is a famous comedian and is great at asking questions. He asks his questions in a very different way. When asking about the speed of light in science he asks, “what is the speed of dark” He normally focuses on the question opposites which normal people do not. But once you start thinking like that it will certainly catch you off-guard and make you laugh a loud.

Listening to such type of people who will tickle your funny bone has an added advantage. These people will help you to send a signal to your brain to be curious. Comedians are really curious people who think about how they twist ordinary situations into something very funny and which would make people laugh.

Everyone of us has something in this world that can be loved. It may be music, gardening, sports, and anything else. This internal love feeling ultimately leads to an encouragement of curiosity.

This curiosity often needs a constant or frequent persuasion and this is the way you can make your own new dendrites for your brain.

If you start doing something that you love from inside you will find that you have an extended opportunity to tap in to several skills that you will never use otherwise. It is also possible that even when you are having fun you will not use those skills. It’s not always laughing that fun is all about.

Fun is of course related to satisfying your own curiosity. For many of the people having fun could also be just having a feel of enjoyment and pleasure. So, if that sounds good to you, start humoring yourself today to keep your brain healthy?, says Ms. Kathy laurenhue.

Dental care during pregnancy

A pregnant mother’s teeth and gums can affect the health of the unborn baby. Infection or disease in the mouth during pregnancy can lead to premature birth and low birth weight. The unborn baby may be put at risk for conditions such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, blindness, and early childhood caries. What can you do, as a pregnant mom?

* Discuss with your doctor, midwife, or nurse and make an appointment to see your dentist.

* Keep your dental appointments and get dental treatment before delivery.

* Brush your teeth at least two times a day, or after you eat.

* Floss your teeth everyday.

* Drink water or low-fat milk. Avoid carbonated drinks during pregnancy.

* Choose fruits rather than fruit juice.

* Chew Xylitol-containing gum after eating.

* Mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water to rinse your mouth after vomiting.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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