Mobile phone risk during storms
The next time you're talking on your cell phone in the midst of a storm may want to cut the conversation short.
UK, doctors have warned of the danger of lightning when using mobile phones outdoors during the stormy weather.
In the British Medical Journal, highlighted the case of a teenager left with serious injuries after being struck by lightning when talking on his phone.
The metal in the phone directs the current into the body, they say.
A 15-year-old was hit by lightning while talking on his phone in a large park in London during stormy weather.
She has no recollection of the incident, but suffered a cardiac arrest and had to be resurrected.
A year later, she has to use a wheelchair and has severe physical difficulties and brain damage that has caused emotional and cognitive problems.
At the hearing where he was holding the phone, she has a burst eardrum and persistent hearing loss.
When a person is hit by lightning, the high resistance of human skin causes the lightning charge to flow over the body - often known as "flashover outside."
But some current can flow through the body. The more that flows through, the more internal damage it causes.
Materials drivers in direct contact with skin such as liquid or metal objects increases the risk that the current flowing through the body and therefore cause internal injuries.
A rare occurrence
Doctors at Northwick Park Hospital in London who treated the girl's hearing injuries found three other cases of people affected by lightning while talking on a cell phone - all of whom died of their wounds - in China, Korea and Malaysia.
They said that although there are rare cases it is a public health problem and people needed to understand the risks.
Swinda Esprit, a doctor in the ear, nose and throat department said: "It is obvious, but in reality we all carry mobile phones and not thinking about it.
"If you're struck by lightning in their own flash over your body but if you're holding a phone to internalize and cause much worse injuries.
"Children in particular do not realize the risk.
"In Australia have guidelines, and one of the things they say is not to hold off mobile phones during storms."
Says Dr Esprit mobile phone manufacturers should warn consumers of hazards.
Paul Taylor, a scientist at the Meteorological Office said it could also be dangerous to carry a cellphone in his pocket during a storm.
"It is well known within the thunderstorm detection community that the use or carrying metallic objects can increase the likelihood of injury.
"It certainly adds to the intensity of damage to the skin and the article certainly amplifies here.
"I would treat a mobile phone as another piece of metal that people tend to take their people as coins and rings."
But Ramsey Farragh group astrophysics at Cambridge University, said in the BMJ: "stab a metal pole into the ground and holding it is asking for trouble.
"But the holding of a very small amount of metal inside an isolated case plastic is unlikely to increase the electric field strength sufficient to increase the risk of a strike well beyond."
Chris Abraham of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Commission association of agreement.
He added: "The risk is that people can not have their mobile phones with them to call emergency services if someone is struck by lightning."
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Mobile phone risk during storms