By E Trengove and KJ Nixon, University of the Witwatersrand
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Electricity+Control, April 2013 (pages 48 – 49)
• E Trengove -email email@example.com
• KJ Nixon - Tel: 011 717 7203 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
South Africa has a relatively high number of lightning fatalities. Reports in the lay press indicate that there were 84 lightning fatalities in South Africa between January 2009 and November 2010, but it should be borne in mind that newspapers are not a reliable source of information since:
- Not all lightning deaths are reported in the newspapers
- Accounts are usually anecdotal and are not based on any kind of forensic investigation
In view of the recent ‘deaths by lightning’ in and around the Johannesburg area, it is appropriate to revisit the basic physics of lightning, the mechanisms of lightning injury and offer some lightning safety guidelines.
- Even at an industrial plant, it must be remembered that lightning can cause harm to people.
- Five mechanisms of injury have been scientifically proven.
- Ensure that site personnel are familiar with the basics of safe behaviour during a thunderstorm.