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Everywhere you go it seems like someone is bopping their head in time to music from an iPod. However, when the rain and lightning comes, it is best to put the popular Apple music player - and any other sound device that is held close to the ears - away!
Earbud headphones, which are standard for MP3 players like the iPod, can increase injuries caused when a person is struck by lightning. This was revealed in a July article in the New England Journal of Medicine, according to a July 12, 2007 CanWest News Service story.
"Most people hit by lightning get away with minor burns," said Vancouver General Hospital radiologist Dr. Eric Heffernan, who is the lead author of the Journal article. "It's because skin is highly resistant and stops electricity from entering the body. It's called the flashover effect - although it can stop your heart and kill you."
The report points to the June 2005 case of a 30-something Burnaby, B.C. runner. He was hit by lightning while listening to his iPod standing under a tree in a park. He suffered burns on his chest, neck and face. The burns traced the positions of his earphones.
As well, his eardrums were ruptured and middle ear bones were dislocated. Violent muscle contractions in his jaw likely caused his jaw to be broken in four places and dislocated.
While the researchers are not alleging the iPod attracted the lightning, they do believe the earphones did increase the chance of injury.
"Although the use of a device such as an iPod may not increase the chances of being struck by lightning, in this vase, the combination of sweat and metal earphones directed the current to, and through, the patient's head," the report stated, according to a July 13 Chinaview.cn article.
The doctors warn that anything that uses headphone or even a cell phone being held close to the ear could cause similar injuries.
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