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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
* 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
“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
* Discuss with your doctor, midwife, or nurse and make an appointment
to see your dentist.
* Keep your dental appointments and get dental treatment before
* 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
* 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