- When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to get struck by lightning
- There are 5 ways to be struck by lightning
- The world's longest (distance) lightning strike was in Oklahoma
As temperatures warm up, more time is being spent outside, especially on the water for summer vacation.
Whether you are floating the river, hanging out on the lake, or going to the beach, it is important to know safety precautions to one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States.
Lightning is one of the least understood weather phenomena.
There are many lightning myths that you should be aware of:
Lightning is a discharge of electricity between positively and negatively charged particles in the atmosphere. It can occur in the cloud and also between the cloud and the ground.
How strong is this discharge of electricity?
Think about your house: the typical current that is in houses is around 120 Volts and 15 Amps; a lightning strike is about 300 million Volts and 30,000 Amps meaning that a lightning strike could light a 100-watt light bulb for about 3 months or a fluorescent bulb for 12 months.
Not only is lightning very powerful, but it is also very hot.
As lightning moves through the atmosphere, the discharge of electricity heats up the air to around 5000° F. This is five times hotter than the sun!
Understanding the different ways to stay safe, how one could be struck, and what to do, are key and could save a life.
Planning ahead includes knowing the forecast and knowing where a safe place is if a thunderstorm threatens your plans. While outside, if the sky looks like a thunderstorm is approaching, it is best to go ahead and go inside.
If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.
Getting inside and away from doors/windows is one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting struck by lightning.
It is also important to remember once the storm clears, it is not necessarily safe to go outside. It is safe to go outside 30 minutes AFTER the last clap of thunder or the last lightning strike.
There are 5 different ways to get struck by lightning:
A Direct Strike
A direct strike occurs when a person becomes part of the main discharge channel. This typically happens when people are in open areas.
A portion of the current moves along and just above the skin while another portion moves through the body via the nervous or cardiovascular system.
A Side Flash
This type of strike happens when lightning strikes a taller object near the victim and a piece of the current jumps from the taller object to the victim.
The person is considered a “short circuit” with some of the energy discharge.
When lightning hits a tall object, the current that is moving through the object will spread out along the ground, anyone outside near lightning could be a victim of this type of strike.
The lightning current enters the body at the point closest to the original lightning strike and leaves the body at the point farthest from the original strike after moving through the nervous or cardiovascular system.
Lightning can travel along wires or other metal objects. Although metal does not attract lightning, it does provide a path for the lightning to follow.
If a thunderstorm is moving through, it is important to stay away from windows, landlines, and to not be in a shower or bath. The old wives’ tale turns out to be true!
Whether inside or outside, it possible to get struck by lightning through this current.
This type of strike is not as common as the others, but still possible.
When the main channel discharges, the surrounding channels discharge as well, even if not connected to the mainline.