According to Wikipedia there are around 240,000 people every year that are injured by lightning strikes with an annual global death toll of around 6,000. If you think that the tires of your vehicle will protect you from a strike while driving, think again, it is nothing more than a myth. It is actually the metal body of the car that offers a level of protection.
While the stats may seem pretty alarming, National Geographic estimate that the odds of you being struck by lightning is only 1 in 700,000 in any given year. However, over the course of a lifetime, your odds of being struck jump to 1 in 3,000.
Lightning Safety Tips For Your Home
Many homeowners can be pretty ignorant when it comes to being at home during a lightning storm. They believe that “It won’t happen to me” without understanding that actually, it can. What happens if you are not at home when the thunderstorm hits? Are your electronics protected? Follow these simple steps to avoid any costly damages later:
- Unplug your electronics – It doesn’t get much simpler than this. It may seem like a pain to keep unplugging your electronics but better that than have to buy new.
- Lightning detectors – These give you an early warning to a lightning storm. They can be used to protect your home by disconnecting power lines as well as providing temporary power generation.
- Surge protectors – These are plugged into your appliances and helps to protect them from any surges caused by the lightning.
- Phone protection – A phone voltage spike will help to protect your phone though talking on your phone is never recommended during a storm.
- Lightning rods – You may think these are old-fashioned and I guess in a way they are but they are very effective at protecting your home. They are basically a metal pole that will attract the lightning, diverting it away so that it doesn’t strike your home.
- Surges and transients – These are used to protect circuit breakers and fuses from short-circuiting. They stop lightning electricity from traveling down wires, which causes damage to your electrical equipment.
- Trees – It is highly recommended that you cut down any tall trees that are growing around the home. These can attract the lightning and if struck, can crash into your roof or cause other damage to your home.
Lightning Safety Tips If Your Outdoors
- Always remain alert and monitor the weather conditions. If you notice a build up of dark clouds and changes in the wind, it could mean that a storm is headed your way. If you see flashes of lightning or can hear thunder, you need to take action
- Understand that it is never safe to be outdoors during a thunderstorm
- Head for a building that you can ride out the storm in. Don’t head for places such as a park pavilions or caves as they do not offer enough protection from the storm
- Do not use corded phones, computers, and other equipment that puts you in direct contact with electricity
- Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths, and faucets
- Do not leave the building until at least 30 minutes from the last time that you hear thunder
If you are outdoors with no chance of getting to shelter:
- Keep off any elevated areas such as hills, bridges, or highway overpasses
- Do not lie flat on the ground or shelter under an isolated tree
- Immediately get out of and away from any body of water, including pools, ponds, rivers, and lakes (see the video below).
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as power lines, electric fences, or barbed wire fences
- Drop anything on you that is metal. This includes items such as internal or external frame backpacks, trekking poles (including aluminum and carbon fiber), crampons, jewelry, etc., and move 100 feet away from them
- If you are in a group, spread out at least 50 feet apart in order to minimize the chance of everyone in a group being struck
- Avoid open areas and objects that can conduct electricity like single trees, windmills, barbed wire or metal fences, bicycles, flag poles or clotheslines.
- Stay away from concrete walls or floors, and never lean on a concrete structure during a lightning storm. Lightning can easily travel through the metal bars in concrete.
If you see someone struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 immediately for medical assistance. If the victim is not breathing, begin CPR, as starting CPR may be critically important to saving their lives. Other victims may not require CPR but still need medical attention.
If you want to see what lightning does when it strikes water? Check out the video below:
Lightning Safety Tips While Driving
As we mentioned at the start of this article, you are actually pretty safe in your vehicle providing that it is a hard-topped vehicle with all the windows closed however, there are still a few rules that you should follow:
- If trying to drive through heavy rain, your visibility will be greatly reduced and it can create very dangerous road conditions. You are much safer to pull your vehicle over when safe to do so and find shelter.
- If no shelter, turn off your engine and turn on your hazard lights while you wait for the storm to pass.
- Do NOT touch anything metal inside your car. No radio, phone chargers, door handles, or steering wheel.
Should You Crouch During A Lightning Storm?
It has been long suggested that if you are caught outside during a storm that you should crouch down on the balls of your feet and keep them as close together as possible. Cover your ears, and don’t allow other body parts to touch the ground. By minimizing the surface area of your body in contact with the ground, you reduce the threat of receiving any electricity traveling across the ground. But is this true?
According to National Weather Service expert John Jensenius, the crouch position does not offer enough protection.
Jensenius published a blog post to set the record straight:
The crouch simply doesn’t provide a significant level of protection. Whether you’re standing or in the crouch position, if a lightning channel approaches from directly overhead (or very nearly so), you’re very likely to be struck and either killed or injured by the lightning strike.