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Lightning Strikes Three Hikers In Rocky Mountain National Park


Lightning knocked three hikers to the ground at near Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park Tuesday afternoon, giving all three minor burns.

The victims were a 46-year-old man, his wife, and a 52-year-old family friend. All three were able to walk down from the Glacier Gorge trail on their own and declined further medical help, said park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson.

The three victims were with a group of eight people from Houston, Texas who were hiking near Mills Lake when lightning struck the ground near them at about 12:20 p.m. The bolt was powerful enough to blast the victims off their feet. The two men received burns to their feet and the woman suffered from burns to her arm. There were earlier reports of a fourth hiker hit by lightning but rangers said that was not the case.
Mills Lake is approximately 2.8 miles from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead.

The three were very fortunate that their injuries were not much more serious.
Here in Colorado, lightning is the number one life threatening weather hazard. Between 1959 and 1994, lightning killed 394 people. Colorado ranks number 11 for lightning deaths in the United States and each year, three people die in Colorado from lightning strikes.

Lightning Safety Tips:

• If you feel your hair stand on end, drop to the ground in a crouched position, hands on knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

• Avoid being the highest object in any area.

• Hike early in the day and get back before afternoon thunderstorms approach.

• Avoid hilltops, trees or telephone poles. In a forest, move under a growth of small trees.

• Stay away from water during a thunderstorm. Water conducts electricity.

• Get off or away from open water and metal equipment (golf cars, tractors, bicycles). Drop golf clubs and remove golf shoes. Keep several yards away from other people. In open areas, go to a low place like a ravine or valley.

• Stay indoors and away from windows during a storm.

• Inside a home, avoid using the phone and unplug unnecessary appliances.

• Watch for flash flooding.

• Many people apparently “killed” by lightning can be revived if quick action is taken.

• Learn mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR.

•  If you’re affected by a lightning strike, see a physician immediately.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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