Using mobile phones during storms could be deadly

Friday, June 26, 2009 Leave a Comment

Using mobile phones outdoors during stormy weather could be deadly and mobile manufacturers should warn consumers of the dangers, say doctors in Britain.

Mobile phones contain metal, which directs the current into the body when lightning strikes. The more the current flows through, the more internal damage it causes, reported the online edition of BBC News.

Swinda Esprit, along with other doctors at Northwick Park Hospital in London, treated a girl's hearing injuries caused while using the mobile phone. The doctors also found three other cases of people being hit by lightning while talking on a mobile phone - in China, Korea and Malaysia - all of whom died of their injuries.

Though such cases were rare, they said it was a public health issue and people needed to understand the risks. "It is obvious really, but we all carry mobile phones and we don't think about it," said Esprit, a doctor in the ear, nose and throat department.

"If you're struck by lightning on its own, it will flash over your body but if you're holding a phone, it will internalise and cause worse injuries." The doctors added that it could also be dangerous to carry a mobile in your pocket during a storm.

The doctors, in the British Medical Journal, highlighted the case of a teenager who suffered severe injuries after being struck by lightning when talking on her phone.

The 15-year-old girl was struck by lightning while talking on her 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 resuscitated.

A year later, she is on a wheelchair and has severe physical difficulties as well as brain damage, which has led to emotional and cognitive problems. She has a burst eardrum and persistent hearing loss.

Esprit stressed that mobile phone manufacturers should warn consumers of these dangers.