Enlarge / T-shirt, shoe, and hat—post-lightning. (credit: William LeGoullon) If you’re hit by lightning, there’s a nine in ten chance you’ll survive.

But what are the lasting effects of being exposed to hundreds of millions of volts? For Mosaic, Charlotte Huff investigates. Her article was first published by Wellcome on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Sometimes they’ll keep the clothing, the strips of shirt or trousers that weren’t cut away and discarded by the doctors and nurses.

They’ll tell and retell their story at family gatherings and online, sharing pictures and news reports of survivals like their own or far bigger tragedies.

The video of a tourist hit on a Brazilian beach or the Texan struck dead while out running.

The 65 people killed during four stormy days in Bangladesh.
Only by piecing together the bystander reports, the singed clothing and the burnt skin can survivors start to construct their own picture of the possible trajectory of the electrical current, one that can approach 200 million volts and travel at one-third of the speed of light.
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