Two people ended up in the hospital and two more had to seek medical attention after being struck by lightning during a storm at the Grand Canyon, the National Park Service said on Thursday.
In a press release, the agency said that the victims were at the Bright Angel Trailhead at around 2:50 pm on July 20 when the lightning struck. Emergency responders initially found two victims, a 28-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, unresponsive. While the 30-year-old woke up without medical intervention, EMS had to perform CPR on the other victim until she regained a pulse.
Because the ongoing storm made an aerial evacuation impossible, an ambulance transported both victims to Flagstaff Medical Center. As of Wednesday, the 28-year-old victim was in stable condition at a regional burn center, SFGate reported. Two more victims reportedly suffered injuries from “lightning splash,” when electricity from a strike jumps from person to person. They transported themselves to the Grand Canyon Clinic for treatment.
July is the height of the monsoon in the southwestern United States, when many desert destinations see near-daily storms, primarily in the afternoon. While the seasonal monsoon provides much-needed moisture to parched regions, it can also be hazardous to hikers who find themselves exposed when lightning strikes. To avoid becoming a victim, start by following a few safety tips:
- Check the weather forecast before hiking and be ready to change or cancel plans if conditions look threatening.
- If you hear thunder or see lightning, seek shelter. The National Park Service cautions that lightning can strike two points up to 10 miles apart at the same time.
- Spread out. Keeping at least 50 feet between yourself and your partners reduces the risk of lightning splash and maximizes the chance that at least one of you will be available to call for help and render aid in case of a strike.
- Don’t fall for the myths. Despite what some people believe, after a strike, lightning victims aren’t dangerous or able to shock you. Don’t be afraid to provide CPR or other necessary first aid.