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Teen hit by lightning leaves hospital

A Patchogue teenager hit by lightning Sunday during a family picnic was discharged from the hospital Monday but will have to undergo tests on her hearing, officials said.

Nicole Burke, 18, was taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center with second-degree burns on her chest and arms and a perforated ear drum after being struck, said Dr. Steven Sandoval, medical director of the Burn Center.

Her family was picnicking at Heckscher State Park in East Islip when Burke was knocked out by the sonic boom, the result of lightning creating a pressure wave of superheated air that's moving faster than the speed of sound, Sandoval said. "She had been struck by the lightning, thrown a couple feet . . . and struck the back of her head."

Burke's health will be monitored because problems from lightning -- including vision and memory loss -- may not show up until later, the doctor said.

Her family issued a statement Monday through the hospital: "The family of Nicole Burke would like to thank all who are asking about her. They are thankful that Nicole is doing well after the frightening incident of being struck by lightning. They request that she be allowed to rest so that she can go home and return to normal as soon as possible."

The National Weather Service advises people to go indoors or into a hard-topped metal vehicle at the first sound of thunder and stay until 30 minutes after the last rumble.

Outdoor lightning safety tips

* Have a lightning safety plan: Know where you’ll go for safety and how much time it will take to get there.
 
* Monitor the weather: Look for signs of a developing thunderstorm, such as darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing wind.
 
* Get to a safe place immediately: At the first sound of thunder, move to a fully enclosed building or a hard-topped metal vehicle with the windows closed. Remain inside until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
 
Source: National Weather Service, lightningsafety.noaa.gov

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