You are on page 1of 19

CHAPTER XV

PHYSICAL INJURIES OR DEATH
BY LIGHTNING AND
ELECTRICITY

.000 million volts or 2.Death or Physical Injury By Lightning Lightnin g .Electric current of about 1.An electrical charge in the atmosphere whose place of occurrence and intensity are unpredictable.000 amperes which is capable of producing injury to human body or even DEATH. .

Elements of Lightning that Produce Injury 1. if not. the outcome will be fatal. resulting in a surprisingly benign outcome. . Direct effect from the electrical charge -In a direct hit. Few individuals experience the full energy of a lightning strike because only about 3-5% of injuries are from a direct strike. much of the current will flash around the skin or clothing to the ground. the electrical charge strikes the victim first. If the victim's skin resistance is high enough.

. the person acts as a “short circuit” for some of energy in the lightning discharge. Surface “flash” burns from the discharge A side flash (also called a side splash) occurs when lightning strikes a taller object near the victim and a portion of the current jumps from taller object to the victim.Elements of Lightning that Produce Injury 2. Side flashes generally occur when the victim is within a foot or two of the object that is struck. In essence. It is noticed that strike can damage a part of some building (roof. chimney…). 3. Most often. destroy a tree or some wooden post but that is not all. side flash victims have taken shelter under a tree to avoid rain or hail. It is noticed that some metal parts that conducted the lightning current were damaged and misshapen. Mechanical Effect Beside the acoustical effects of the lightning there are noticeable mechanical effects. It means that when we talk about the current of lightning we must pay attention to its mechanical effects that can be very important in certain circumstances.

Leicester .Mechanical Effect Of Lightning. therefore.St George's.with a force equal to more than twelve thousand horse power. A single horse power is equal to raising thirty-two thousand pounds one foot high in one minute. was equal to three hundred and eighty-four million pounds raised one foot high in one minute. 4. The force of the lightning. Compression effect . It has been proved that a flash of lightning must have struck a church .

Fusion of glass materials on account of severe heat 5.Skin often shows arborescent marking 7.Burns . 2.Evidences of the effect of lightning 3.Absence of wound and other injuries indicating suicidal or homicidal death 6.Metallic articles are fused and magnetized 4.History of a thunderstorm that took place in the locality.Points to Be Considered in Making a Diagnosis of Death from Lightning 1.

Arborescent or filigree burns – radiating burns from a point. Linear Burns – found where areas of the skin offer less resistance 3. 2. similar to electrocution .Classes of Burns 1. Surface Burns – these are superficial burns usually seen under metallic objects worn or carried by the victims.

Mild Attack a.Effects of Lightning in the Human Body 1. Pupils are dilated and sensitive to light f. Unconsciousness c. Immediate Loss of Consciousness 3. Headache. Relaxation of the entire muscular system g. deep and interrupted respiration d. Pulse is slow and weak e. Slow. In severe cases. it may lead to blindness. Death 2. External lesion of almost any description b. deafness and loss of speech . dizziness and noise in the ears h.

Artificial respiration 2.Treatment 1. or CSF) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. . Air passage must be kept free 3. Lumbar puncture to release the tension in the cerebrospinal fluid A lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap) is a procedure to collect and look at the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid.

Shock can result in serious damage or even death. This deprives the organs and tissues of oxygen (carried in the blood) and allows the buildup of waste products. 6. Rectal hypnotic to combat delirium 5. Treatment to combat shock Shock is a medical emergency in which the organs and tissues of the body are not receiving an adequate flow of blood. Treatment to build resistance of the victim .4.

Internal . External . brain . pericardium.Rupture of the blood vessels and the internal organs Medico-Legal Aspect .may be useful to eliminate the possibility that death is due to the felonious act of another person .Marked tearing of the wearing apparel .Singeing of the hair of the scalp and other parts of the body 2.Fracture of bones .Hemorrhage due to the laceration or the rupture of organs .Post-Mortem Findings 1.Petechial hemorrhages of the lungs.Burns of different degrees on the skin surface .Magnetization of metals in the wearing apparel .Wounds of almost any description .Fusion of metals and glasses .

rather it is the amperage or intensity of the electrical current that is the principal factor. .DEATH OR PHYSICAL INJURIES FROM ELECTRICITY The main cause of death in electricity is SHOCK. Voltage is not the only factor causing the injury. Ordinary domestic line is from 100 to 250 volts sufficient to produce death.

Personal Idiosyncracy 2. Earthing 11. Sleep 5.FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE THE EFFECT OF ELECTRICAL SHOCK 1. Point of entry . Density of the current 8. Amperage or intensity of electric current 7. Electrical voltage or tension 6. Anticipation of a shock. Nature of the current 10. Kind of electrodes 13. Duration of contact 12. 4. Disease 3. Resistance of the body 9.

Pulse is rapid. Current Markings . filiform and may be irregular 4. Pupils are dilated and insensitive 5.painless and show no vital reaction .absence of mark does not exclude electrocution but the presence raises a strong presumption of death from electrocution. Breath is stertorous 3. Symptoms: 1. Pale face . Surface of the body is cold and moistened 2. Electric Marks.Nature of Electrical Burns • Electrical Necrosis.

. and had to be amputated a few days later. until finally exiting where the body is closest to the ground.Entrance Wound: High resistance of skin transforms electrical energy into heat. the current narrowly missed his spinal cord. which produces burns around the entrance point (dark spot in center of wound). This foot suffered massive internal injuries. This man was lucky. which weren't readily visible. Exit Wound: Current flows through the body from the entrance point.

Thermal Contact Burns Current exited this man at his knees. . The current was drawn to his armpits because perspiration is very conductive. catching his clothing on fire and burning his upper leg. Though he did not touch the box.Arc or Flash Burns This man was near a power box when an electrical explosion occurred. electricity arced through the air and entered his body.

Internal Injuries This worker was shocked by a tool he was holding. which contracted. the skin on the arm was cut open. when massive subcutaneous tissue damage had caused severe swelling (swelling usually peaks 24-72 hours after electrical shock). Involuntary Muscle Contraction This worker fell and grabbed a powerline to catch himself. The entrance wound and thermal burns from the overheated tool are apparent Same hand a few days later. The resulting electric shock mummified his first two fingers. To relieve pressure which would have damaged nerves and blood vessels. . The acute angle of the wrist was caused by burning of the tendons. drawing the hand with them. which had to be removed.

-Intense vascular congestion of the dura mater .Eyes congested and pupils dilated -Trachea may be congested -Lungs deeply engorged and edematous -Congestion of visceral organs .metal of the conductor is volatilized and particles of the metal are driven into epidermis causing some parts of the body to be darkened.Post-Mortem Findings -Electrical arborization -Burns with metallization Metallization .

MEDICO LEGAL ASPECT .Mostly accidental. Close switch. 2. Artificial respiration which must continue for about an hour 3. Remove the victim from live wire installation.Treatment 1. Treatment of shock or coma. .