A 19-year-old man was taken to Morristown Medical Center after being struck by lightning while in a Chatham Borough field Thursday evening, authorities said.
The juvenile was running on the rubberized turf at Haas Field when he noticed a lightning strike nearby, turning to see the victim lying unconscious about ten feet from the soccer goal post, Chatham Borough Police Chief Brian K. Gibbons said.
"The witness did not actually see the suspected strike, but reports [the victim] was unconscious for approximately two minutes and woke in the prone position with a tingling sensation over his body," police said.
The juvenile summoned a neighbor for help, who found the victim wandering around unsteadily before bringing him into his home to call for medical help, police said.
The victim was conscious and alert -- "shaken but stable" -- when police arrived at the Ellers Drive home but did not recall seeing a lightning strike or falling unconscious, the chief said.
The Chatham Emergency Squad and Paramedics responded, treating and transporting the victim to the hospital for additional evaluation and treatment.
Police warned residents that there is no safe place to be outside during a thunderstorm and shared the following tips:
- Lightning is likely to strike the tallest objects in a given area: you should not be the tallest object.
- Avoid isolated tall trees, hilltops, utility poles, cell phone towers, cranes, large equipment, ladders, scaffolding, or rooftops.
- Avoid open areas, such as fields. Never lie flat on the ground.
- Retreat to dense areas of smaller trees that are surrounded by larger trees, or retreat to low-lying areas (e.g., valleys, ditches) but watch for flooding.
- Avoid water, and immediately get out of and away from bodies of water (e.g., pools, lakes). Water does not attract lightning, but it is an excellent conductor of electricity. For boating safety see NOAA PA 200252.
- Avoid wiring, plumbing, and fencing. Lightning can travel long distances through metal, which is an excellent conductor of electricity. Stay away from all metal objects, equipment, and surfaces that can conduct electricity.
- Do not shelter in sheds, pavilions, tents, or covered porches as they do not provide adequate protection from lightning.
- Seek fully-enclosed, substantial buildings with wiring and plumbing. In modern buildings, the interior wiring and plumbing will act as an earth ground. A building is a safe shelter as long as you are not in contact with anything that can conduct electricity (e.g., electrical equipment or cords, plumbing fixtures, corded phones). Do not lean against concrete walls or floors (which may have metal bars inside).
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