TOP-10 MYTHS OF LIGHTNING SAFETY Source
1. MYTH: Lightning Never Strikes The Same Place Twice
TRUTH: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall pointy isolated object. The Empire State Building used to be used as a lightning laboratory, since it is hit nearly 25 times a year. Places prone to lightning are places to avoid when thunderstorms are nearby!
2. MYTH: If It’s Not Raining, Or If Clouds Aren’t Overhead, I’m Safe From Lightning
TRUTH: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or even thunderstorm cloud. ‘Bolts From The Blue’, though infrequent, can strike 10-15 Miles from the thunderstorm. Anvil lightning can strike the ground over 50 Miles from the thunderstorm, under extreme conditions. Lightning in clouds has traveled over 100 miles from the thunderstorm.
3. MYTH: Rubber Tires Protect You From Lightning In A Car By Insulating You From The Ground
TRUTH: Lightning laughs at two inches of rubber! Most cars are reasonably safe from lightning. But it’s the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, not the rubber tires. Thus convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open shelled outdoor recreational vehicles, and cars with plastic or fiberglass shells offer no lightning protection. ikewise, farm and construction vehicles with open cockpits offer no lightning protection. But closed cockpits with metal roof and sides are safer than going outside. And don’t even ask about sneakers! ☺
5. MYTH: If Outside In A Thunderstorm, Go Under A Tree To Stay Dry
TRUTH: Being underneath trees is the second leading activity for lightning casualties – enough said?!
7. MYTH: When Playing Sports And Thunderstorms Threaten, It’s Okay To Finish The Game Before Seeking Shelter
TRUTH: Sports is the activity with the fastest rising rate of lightning casualties. No game is worth death or life-long severe injury. All people associated with sports should have a lightning safety plan and stick to it strictly. Seek proper shelter immediately when lightning threatens. Adults are responsible for the safety of children!
8. MYTH: Structures With Metal, Or Metal On The Body (Jewelry, Watches, Glasses, Backpacks, Etc.), Attract Lightning
TRUTH: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike (Read HiWheel). The presence of metal makes virtually no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone, but receive many strikes each year. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately. Don’t aste time shedding metal off your body, or seeking shelter under inadequate structures. But while metal doesn’t attract lightning, touching or being near long metal objects (fences, railings, bleachers, vehicles, etc.) is still unsafe when thunderstorms are nearby. If lightning does happen to hit it, the metal can conduct the
electricity a long distance (even over 100 yards) and still electrocute you.
9. MYTH: If Trapped Outside And Lightning Is About To Strike, Lie Flat On The Ground
TRUTH: This advice is decades out of date. Better advice is to use the ‘Lightning Crouch’: put your feet together, squat low, tuck your head, and cover your ears. Lightning induces electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly over 100 Feet away. While lying flat on the ground gets you as low as possible, which is good, it increases your chance of being hit by a ground current, which is bad. The best combination of being low and touching the ground as little as possible is the ‘Lightning Crouch’. But the ‘Lightning Crouch’ should be used only as a last resort. Much better would be to plan outdoor activities around the weather to avoid thunderstorm exposure and to have proper shelter available.
10. MYTH: Go near a tall pointy isolated object when thunderstorms threaten, to be within the 45° “cone of protection”
TRUTH: The “cone of protection” is a myth! While tall pointy isolated objects are statistically more likely to be struck by lightning, it’s not nearly reliable enough to rely on for safety. Lightning can still strike you near the tall object. Besides, the lightning electricity will likely spread out along the surface of the ground and can still kill you over 100 Ft from the “protecting” object. Also, if you are close to or touching the tall object, you can be electrocuted via side flash or contact voltage. NO PLACE OUTSIDE IS SAFE NEAR A THUNDERSTORM!
In lightning safety, a “myth” is not as good as a mile ☺. Distance and proper shelter is your best protection from lightning.
People have been hit by lightning while riding motorcycles and bikes. Here are just a few examples:
- Virginia Beach, VA: Motorcyclist killed while traveling on Route 58.
- Colorado: a 16 year old boy killed while riding a bicycle.
- Tennessee: a 47 year old man killed while leaning against his motorcycle.
- Virginia: a man killed riding his motorcycle.
Protect Yourself when on a bicycle, motorcycle or dirt bike. Carry a portable Weather Radio or listen to commercial radio. If you see threatening skies in the distance and you are near a safe building, pull over and wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before resuming your ride.----------------------------------------------------------------------
Lightning Danger Source
Lightning is one of nature's most awe inspiring and dangerous phenomenon. The average lightning flash could light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months! The temperature of a lightning bolt may reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit which is hotter than the surface of the sun!
On average, lightning kills one person in Kansas per year, and about 73 nationwide. In fact, lightning remains one of the most deadly weather phenomena in the U.S., and it can occur almost anywhere throughout the entire year. Lightning occurring during snowstorms has even killed people! Many people incur injuries or are killed due to misinformation and inappropriate behavior during thunderstorms. A few simple precautions can reduce many of the dangers posed by lightning.
Do you hear it? Once you hear thunder, it is time to act to prevent being struck by lightning. Generally speakingonce you can see lightning or hear thunder, you're already at risk for lightning injury or death. If the time delay between seeing the flash (lightning) and hearing the bang (thunder) is less than 30 seconds, immediately seek a safer location.
Avoid being in or near High places and open fields, isolated trees, gazebos, open sided picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, communication towers, flagpoles, light poles, bleachers (metal or wood), metal fences, convertibles, golf carts, water (ocean, lakes, swimming pools, rivers, etc.)
When inside a building AVOID: Use of the telephone or computer, taking a shower, washing your hands, doing dishes, or any contact with conductive surfaces with exposure to the outside such as metal door or window frames, electrical wiring, telephone wiring, cable TV wiring, plumbing, etc.
If driving: Stay in your automobile. An enclosed automobile offers reasonably good protection from lightning, as long as you don't touch metal.
Pay attention to weather warning devices such as NOAA Weather Radio and/or credible Lightning Detection systems. Noaa All Hazards Radio and local weather forecasts should be monitored prior to any outdoor event to determine if thunderstorms are in the forecast. Use good common sense if living in or traveling across Kansas this year.
More information on lightning can be found at http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/