Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/19/ipod_lightning_strike/

iPod saves lightning-strike teen

All-powerful device takes 300kV hit

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 19th June 2009 12:23 GMT

An Essex teenager struck by lightning escaped the worst effects of the 300kV shock thanks to her iPod, the Daily Mail reports.

Sophie Frost and boyfriend Mason Billington, both 14, were unwisely sheltering under a tree on playing fields in Rayleigh when the bolt struck. Critically, the earphones of Frost's iPod were "hanging from her school uniform" rather than plugged into her ears,* and the dangling wires carried some of the current outside her body.

The pair were also holding hands, which divided the force of the bolt between them, although they were both knocked unconscious. Billington came to first, and carried his girlfriend to a road where he flagged down a car which whisked them to hospital.

Frost suffered minor burns, while Billington has eye damage which doctors "hope will not be permanent".

Frost said: "Everyone said the iPod must have diverted the lightning away from my body, which probably saved my life."

Her mother Julie told the Sun: "The doctors say her iPod saved her. Her nan only bought it a few days ago. Luckily, she wasn’t actually wearing the headphones. If she had been, she might not be here today."

She added: "Mind you, the only thing Sophie was worried about was that her new iPod was frazzled."

Frost is now recovering in a Chelmsford hospital. Inevitably, her chums have nicknamed her "Sparky".

The Daily Mail has a photo of the lucky teen and her scorched clothes here. ®

Bootnote

*This really may have been critical. Readers might recall the case of the Canadian man who was listening to his iPod under a tree during a lightning storm.

He suffered "multiple injuries to his head". Vancouver General Hospital radiologist Dr. Eric Heffernan explained: "Most people hit by lightning get away with minor burns. 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.

"But in this case, the victim had earphones on and had been sweating from jogging so this was a case of disrupted flashover and the earphones transmitted the electrical current into his head."