22-year old gets hit by lightning in her ear while on a cellphone call; experts see no connection

22-year old Brittany Prehn was attending the outdoor Country Thunder Music Festival in Wisconsin, and in the middle of a conversation on her smartphone, she was struck by lightning. Prehn was hit in the ear and the lightning traveled through the rest of her body. A medic at Northern Illinois Medical Center, where the victim was originally transported, noted that there was "significant damage to the phone" and all indications are that her handset was placed up to her ear as the lightning hit. But experts would say that there is no connection between the victim getting struck in the ear, and the fact that she was on a cellphone call at the time.

If you're worried about using your phone in the middle of a thunderstorm, which are quite common this time of the year in certain regions of the U.S., you have nothing to worry about. NOAA National Weather Service lightning expert John Jensenius says that "People are struck because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. No lightning danger is inherent to cellular phones." So it would seem that Prehn was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the fact that she was in the middle of a call when lightning struck was just bad luck.

In China, there are signs placed around the country warning people not to use their phone during lightning storms, but this would seem to be a misguided attempt to warn users of an issue that doesn't exist. Actually, there is more of a threat to your phone in a thunderstorm unless it has some form of water resistant coating or is rated high enough on the Ingress Protection (IP) scale. Phones rated IPX5 or higher have a better chance at surviving a downpour. Certain Motorola devices with nanocoating protection from P2i will make it through a light rain.

As for Brittany Prehn, she was transferred to Loyola University Medical Center where she is currently in the ICU unit.

source: ABC7Chicago (Image: Treehugger)



1. f_u_006

Posts: 122; Member since: Mar 19, 2014

Then why write an article about if "experts see no connection"?

7. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Then we should ask those experts to demonstrate that using their own cell phone to make a call during a thunderstorm. Live demonstration to the public, we even can broadcast it to the internet so the entire world can see.

2. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

It’s Apple’s fault, their products doesn’t have lightning proof. s**tty products as always from Apple. /s But seriously I hope she recovers and get well soon.

12. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

But their phone got lightning port.

23. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 746; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

And you think that android phones are lightning proof?

3. doublestandardz

Posts: 103; Member since: Jul 06, 2018

Problem is the supposed experts these days are the biggest morons.

4. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Guess that makes you the expert

5. kiko007

Posts: 7523; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

He walked directly into that one lmao.

6. zennacko unregistered

I guess it should be within expectations when you attend the "Country Thunder Music Festival" /s On a more serious note, I am curious about the physics involved in this accident. Was she the tallest person in the area or her cell phone attracted the lightning with some kind of obscure radio wave magnetism? Anyway, people should know better than to stay in an open field during a thunderstorm.

11. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Electricity always follows the path of least resistance. It's not always about being the tallest, or electromagnetic radiation, etc. It's about the electricity from the lightning finding the easiest path to ground through her phone. Likely due to being built with a conductive outer casing.

8. SyCo87

Posts: 331; Member since: Sep 19, 2013

That's very unfortunate and downright unlucky, hopefully she fully recovers.

9. monoke

Posts: 1206; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

I'm here trying to figure out if the girl's ok but this article wants us to know that the phone is fine.. Smh.

10. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Haha... Exactly! The article is like, the phone was hit by lightning, but the human holding the phone is somewhat fine, she's recovering...but that's not the point, we're here to talk about phones so it's all well that the phone's well.

16. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

That's PhoneArena for you!

13. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

"It is perfectly safe to use a cellphone during a thunderstorm" And it's perfectly unsafe standing outdoor during a thunderstorm. Seriously, It doesn't matter if she drinking cola, making a call, or playing banjo outside during thunderstorm, the chance are still the same.

17. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

These guys are idiots if they think calling during a thunderstorm while outside your home is "perfectly" safe.....

14. faizal.hhh

Posts: 7; Member since: Jun 10, 2018

So, What's the exact reason for the lightening struck? Specifically in ear???

15. miketer

Posts: 546; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

Lighting and phones, there's a connection. A relative of mine was killed while she was using a mobile phone during heavy rains. She was standing near the window and talking. When lightning struck, we exactly didn't see what she went through, but when she fell down, I turned and ran towards her. She was already dead with a blue line passing across her skull. Also the side of her face where she was holding the phone also turned blue. So I feel frustrated when I see these kind of expert reports.

18. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Post no. 17

19. michaelny2001

Posts: 355; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

many experts think some many ingredients that use in our food consumptions are good for us. meanwhile Japan, EU and others banned them. I just don't believe those experts. technically, if u have metal close to you, it attracts lightning. why do you think top of buildings have a metal pole with a ground? it's really unfortunate what happened ot her anbd hope she'll get better.

20. BullaBoss

Posts: 141; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

I think the phone actually took most of the damage.

21. MarmiteTheDog

Posts: 192; Member since: Jul 31, 2017

Should've been enjoying the festival instead of spending most of the day talking to people who were not there, telling them how 'awesome' it was.

22. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Girl on phone talks trash about Zeus. Guess what he did.

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