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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 21:26 GMT 22:26 UK
Music players 'in lightning risk'
An iPod
Doctors say sweat and metal earphones can channel lightning
Doctors in Vancouver, Canada, have warned that people who wear portable media players during a storm could be putting themselves at risk.

In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, they describe burns and hearing damage suffered by a patient hit by lightning while using his iPod.

The man, who was jogging in a storm, suffered burns to his chest and on his leg where he was wearing the player.

Doctors say the man's sweat and metal earphones helped channel the current.

Medical experts say electronic devices, such as music players or mobile phones, on their own do not attract lightning.

But in the Vancouver man's case, "the combination of sweat and metal earphones directed the current to, and through, the patient's head," wrote Drs Eric J Heffernan, Peter L Munk and Luck J Louis of Vancouver General Hospital.

Burst eardrums

The man's jaw was broken, probably by muscle contraction, say the doctors.

The current of electricity through his headphones caused the air in his ears to heat and expand, creating pressure waves which burst his eardrums.

The extra jolt of electricity through the wires of the man's music player caused second-degree burns all the way down his chest and to his left leg.

In addition, witnesses reported the man being thrown about eight feet (2.4m) after the lightning hit him, the doctors said.

The incident, which happened two years ago, has left the man with less than 50% hearing in both ears.

Several other cases of people suffering burns and hearing loss after being struck by lightning while wearing personal stereos have also been recorded.


SEE ALSO
Mother and girl hit by lightning
04 Jul 07 |  Norfolk
Lightning victim 'kept breathing'
06 Jun 07 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
What to do in a thunderstorm?
05 Jul 06 |  Magazine

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