Death From Lightning And Electricity

The signs of death from lightning vary greatly. In some cases there are

no signs; in others the body may be most curiously marked. Wounds of

various characters--contused, lacerated, and punctured--may be

produced. There may be burns, vesications, and ecchymoses; arborescent

markings are not uncommon. The hair may be singed or burnt and the

clothing damaged. Rigor mortis is very rapid in its onset and transient.

Post mortem there are no characteristic signs, but the blood may be dark

in colour and fluid. The presence or absence of a storm may assist the


Injuries by electrical currents of high pressure are not uncommon;

speaking generally, 1,000 to 2,000 volts will kill. In America, where

electricity is adopted as the official means of destroying criminals,

1,500 volts is regarded as the lethal dose, but there are many instances

of persons having been exposed to higher voltages without bad effects.

The alternating current is supposed to be more fatal than the

continuous. Much depends on whether the contact is good (perspiring

hands or damp clothes). Death has been attributed in these cases to

respiratory arrest or sudden cessation of the heart's action. The best

treatment is artificial respiration, but the inhalation of nitrite of

amyl may prove useful. Rescuers must be careful that they, also, do not

receive a shock. The patient should be handled with india-rubber gloves

or through a blanket thrown over him.

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