Experts warn against wearing iPods during electrical storms

“Listen to an iPod during a storm and you may get more than electrifying tunes,” Linda A. Johnson reports for The Associated Press.

“A Canadian jogger suffered wishbone-shaped chest and neck burns, ruptured eardrums and a broken jaw when lightning traveled through his music player’s wires,” Johnson reports. “Last summer, a Colorado teen ended up with similar injuries when lightning struck nearby as he was listening to his iPod while mowing the lawn.”

Johnson reports, “Emergency physicians report treating other patients with burns from freak accidents while using personal electronic devices… Contrary to some urban legends and media reports, electronic devices don’t attract lightning the way a tall tree or a lightning rod does.”

“When lightning jumps from a nearby object to a person, it often flashes over the skin. But metal in electronic devices — or metal jewelry or coins in a pocket — can cause contact burns and exacerbate the damage,” Johnson reports.

Johnson reports, “A spokeswoman for Apple Inc., the maker of iPods, declined to comment. Packaging for iPods and some other music players do include warnings against using them in the rain.”

Full article here.

Helen Branswell reports for The Canadian Press, “Wearing the device that is said to put ‘1,000 songs in your pocket’ during a thunderstorm may have sent millions of volts surging through the head of an unlucky Vancouver jogger.”

“His eardrums were ruptured, his jaw fractured and he suffered first- and second-degree burns from his chest – where the device was strapped – up into his ear channels, along the trail of the iPod’s trademark white earphones. He also had burns down his left leg and on the foot, where the electricity exited his body, blowing his sneaker to smithereens in the process,” Branswell reports.

“‘Using things like this, a mobile phone or an iPod, there isn’t actually an increased risk (of incurring a lightning injury),’ Dr. Eric Heffernan, a radiologist at Vancouver General Hospital, said from Vancouver. ‘But we just suggest that if you are unlucky enough to be hit by lightning while listening to anything with earphones you may be more likely to do yourself some damage.'”

“As for the offending IPod, well, it was ‘damaged beyond repair. Absolutely burned to a crisp,’ Heffernan said,” Branswell reports. “The man has bought another, the doctor reported. But as the old adage goes, once burned, twice shy. He no longer wears an IPod when he goes out for a jog.”

Full article here.

The New England Journal of Medicine’s report “Thunderstorms and iPods – Not a Good iDea” is here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “klapka,” “Shawn,” and “Pierre” for the heads up.]



  1. Gee Sky Lark,

    Are you plugging FBI (a pretty good station) or commenting about this story. Now as the station is Sydney based why don’t you link the story to the fact that Sydney has more thunderstorms than any capital city in the world. Now wouldn’t that be relevant? (However, many of your listed bands are pretty damn good.)

    This a good reminder that if you are caught out in a thunderstorm you shouldn’t be listening to any mp3 player…especially Zunes. (It’s one thing to be zapped, it’s another thing to end up in hospital shouting I HAVE NO TASTE AND I HAVE NO STYLE!)

  2. I have no connection with FBI, just like them.

    But the more rain we get here the better.

    Any way it’s all about thinning out the herd and gene pool.
    Actually that’s a bit flippant, don’t like to see or hear of anyone get hurt,

  3. The chance of getting hit by a lighting is pretty damn small. Unless you’re swimming during the the thunder storm, that would be just plain stupid.

    Listening to an iPod during a thunder storm is really safe compared to a finninsh Juhannus (a mid-summer fest): Get really drunk and go to Sauna (80-120C), then prove that Tarzan wasn’t such a great swimmer. After that it’s good to go fishing, and naturally everyone in the boat is standing. If you’re still alive you should take fastest car available and pack it full drunken people and see how fast it really is.

    If wake up the next morning, that’s good thing. You’re alive. Roughly 15 people die during 2 days, which is pretty low considering the risk factor.

  4. ..what about the xbox it ok to wear an xbox. what about a Volkswagon. What about wearing down your so-called friends with pathetic drivel a thunderstorm. What about a homonym where am I or werewolves don’t wear windbreakers in the merry month of may ..what about a prophylactic widget.. Can you carry this too far ..and if you could maybe you’d like to keep it in that stupid iPod sock. Can lightening make you stupid. The answer to all these questions is yes.

  5. Just another article based on the fact that they did not get in on the stock. Zune is a consumer repellent.

    The iPhone will attract tornados and cyclones near water.

    The iMac will make the locusts come back….

    Come on Bill, just make a product that works and stop paying
    these so-called experts..

    Just a why do we listen thought….

  6. QUOTE “He also had burns down his left leg and on the foot, where the electricity exited his body, blowing his sneaker to smithereens in the process,”

    Lightning eminates at ground level and goes up to the sky. Not the other way, as commonly believed. Like Windows, it is counter-intertuitive! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    Sorry, just couldn’t resist…

  7. lmao good one ‘doc’ they come in the wrost of colors too lol no taste indeed

    MDN MW: “zebra” as in they’ll be announcing their new zebra striped zune any day now, they say its gonna be a big hit, its gonna sell 2! more zunes than all the others! (then steve ballmer can say thier selling millions of millions of millions of zunes, whats apple selling?)

  8. Skylark wrote: “An Aussie iPod collection in no particular order, but the YEAH YEAH YEAHS are my favs lately – Couldn’t think of many more right now, but there are soooo many others. Aussie music has always rocked !!!
    Tune into FBI – a Sydney – local indie radio station.”

    I like OZ stuff. Attended UNSW for year.
    In any case, disappointed that FBI only steams via WMP.
    Did like this picture though.

  9. Wait! Wait! I got it! The new xgame phenomenon! Listen to the iPod and do the Robot in an open field during an electrical storm, with wire coat hangers in each hand (steel toe boots a must)! Last one standing wins!

  10. Every new iPod and iPhone will be packaged with this warning sticker.


    You’d think that if someone was smart enough to choose an iPod, they’d be smart enough to know to come in out of the rain.

    I could see this happening to a Zune owner.

    Perhaps the guy got his iPod as a Christmas present.

  11. Hmmmm, maybe it was the sneakers that caused the damage??? Afterall, they were totally destroyed, weren’t they!! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    “Wearing sneakers while running in the rain can increase the chance for having foot burns while getting struck by lightning!!! ” If you run in the rain, do not wear sneakers. You will have a higher chance of getting struck by lightning but if you do get struck, your feet will be less likely to be burned by melted plastic!!!

    Boy, what a crock of experts!!


  12. Stupid is as stupid does.

    I can see how one might get caught in a storm whilst out running, especially a long one. That happened to me once and it was hella scary. That was before I had an iPod.

    But getting hit by lightening whilst cutting the lawn. That’s just plain stupid.

    The guys should count themselves lucky that they are still alive, rather than complaining about their injuries.

    Since the iPod is so dominant it is to be expected that any incidents like this will involve an iPod or that people will use the name iPod when generally referring to mp3 players. That’s the price of fame!

  13. Did anyone read the NEJM article abstract? I liked this part:

    “Although the use of a device such as an iPod may not increase the chances of being struck by lightning,3”

    And the footnote points to “Farragher RM. Injury from lightning strike while using mobile phone: statistics and physics do not suggest a link. BMJ 2006;333:96-96”

    I liked how they blamed the iPod for the guys ruptured eardrums, then said, “Perforations are commonly seen in patients who have been struck by lightning…”

    IOW, this really has nothing to do whatsoever with the iPod, except, like change in your pocket or other metal on your person, you might get some extra burns.

    Jeesh, I know iPod is everywhere, but does EVERYthing have to be about the iPod? I’m beginning to suspect iPod (and iPhone by extension) have paranormal powers beyond this realm, FFS! (I think maybe, “It is also a rather interesting shade of mauve.”)

    MW: school, as in these researchers need to go back.

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