Thunderstorms & iPods Make Dangerous Combination

Jul 12th, 2007 | By | Category: Digital Music, iPhone, iPods & Portable Media Players

The New England Journal of Medicine has published an article that highlights a rare risk of using iPods and other portable electronic devices in bad weather.

A 37-year-old man was brought to the emergency department at our hospital. He had been jogging in a thunderstorm, listening to his iPod, when an adjacent tree was struck by lightning. Witnesses reported that he was thrown approximately 8 ft (2.4 m) from the tree.

The patient had second-degree burns on his chest and left leg. In addition, two linear burns extended along his anterior chest and neck to the sides of his face, terminating in substantial burns in the external auditory meatus bilaterally, corresponding to the positions of his earphones at the time of the lightning strike. Both of his tympanic membranes were ruptured, and he had a severe conductive hearing deficit.

Although the use of a device such as an iPod may not increase the chances of being struck by lightning, in this case, the combination of sweat and metal earphones directed the current to, and through, the patient’s head.

Computed tomographic scans and more gory details are available at the NEJM site.

No Responses to “Thunderstorms & iPods Make Dangerous Combination”

  1. So the iPod had nothing to do with being hit; it only affected how the charge was distributed.

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