Two men were killed and ten others injured on Saturday afternoon, when they were struck by lightning in Sheepmoor, Mpumalanga.
According to Arrive Alive, the deceased were lying under a tree next to a football field on Saturday, while the rest of the victims were scattered around the field. Both deceased are believed to have been 18 years old.
ER24 and Provincal EMS medics assessed the victims and declared the two men dead on the scene shortly after 18:00.
The ten others were found to have sustained injuries ranging from minor to serious, and were transported to Ermelo Hospital for treatment.
How to stay safe in a lightning storm
According to the South African Journal of Science, lightning-related deaths in South Africa account for an average of between 1.5 and 8.8 per million of the population, which is said to be about four times higher than the global average.
Insurance company Miway has put together this list of tips to stay safe when lightning is afoot.
- Avoid these dangers. Don’t shelter under trees, near water, on high ground or in open fields. Canopy shelters or gazebos containing metal frames should also be avoided. It should go without saying, but swimming during a storm is a big no-no!
- If you can, head inside. The first rule of keeping safe is to head back indoors when there is lightning. It’s also important to note that lightning often occurs around the edges of a thundercloud, so just because it hasn’t started raining yet, doesn’t mean it’s safe. At the first sign of lighting or thunder, it’s best to head inside a solid building, and stay inside for at least 30 minutes after you heard the last clap of thunder – just to be safe!
- No buildings around? A car is a safe place to shelter. If lightning does happen to strike the car directly, it will be conducted through the metal frame of the car and into the ground. Avoid leaning on car doors during a storm, as the electricity travels through the frame.
- Unplug your appliances. Lightning can damage electronics, telephones and other systems in your house that are connected to an electrical outlet – unplug them when you hear the first clap of thunder. Surge protectors can help – but remember that these are not fail-proof if the strike is a powerful one. Check whether your insurer provides Power Surges and Dips cover. Additionally, avoid using corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that may put you in direct contact with electricity.
- Indoor safety. Stay away from all plumbing – including toilets, sinks and taps – as water is a conductor of electricity. Don’t forget to bring your pets inside. Dog houses and other pet shelters are not suitable protection against lightning strikes.
Lightning is very dangerous and unpredictable. Contrary to the old saying, lighting can indeed strike twice in the same place!