9 myths about lightning – and the facts behind the myths

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9 myths about lightning –and the facts behind the myths

While fishing on the Missouri a few years back, our friends Susie and Dee noticed a black cloud thunderstorm on the horizon. On the way to shore, a bolt of lightning zapped through their boat, leaving their graphite rods a smoking mess. The fishing poles, acting like lightning rods had conducted the electricity through their rods and maybe saved their lives.According to NOAA, there are an average of 51 deaths per year.In this blog we will explore some myths about lightning that will hopefully keep us safe if we ever find ourselves out in an electrical storm.

The best advice is to take shelter in a house, or other structure, or a hard topped, fully enclosed structure.Property damage from lightning is covered under your homeowners policy, and your car is protected under the comprehensive portion of your auto policy.

Here are the nine myths, and the facts behind them

  • Lightning never strikes in the same place twice.

Lightning often strikes in the same place repeatedly, especially if it is a tall and isolated object. In fact, the Empire State Building was once used as a lightning laboratory because of its height. It is struck on average, over 35 times each year.

  • If you are in a thunderstorm you should seek shelter under a tree.

Sheltering under a tree is just about the worst thing you can do. If lightning should hit the tree you are under, there is a good chance the a “ground charge” will spread out from the tee in all direction. Being underneath a tree is the second biggest cause of lightning casualties.

  • Lie flat on the ground if you are outside in a storm

This makes you more vulnerable to electrocution, not less. Lightning generates potentially generates deadly electrical current along the ground in all directions, by lying down you provide more potential points of grounding.

  • If you don’t see clouds overhead, you are safe.

Often lightning can strike up to 3 miles from a thunderstorm, far from the rain or even the thunderstorm cloud. In fact, strikes “out of the blue” can occur up to 10 miles away.

  • Your rubber tires will protect you in a vehicle

Being in a car will likely protect you, but not because of the tires! The actual reason is because the metal roof and sides divert lightning around you. Motorcycles, convertables, bikes and open shelled outdoor recreation vehicles and car with plastic or fiberglass shells, offer no protection at all.

  • Touching a lightning victim will result in your electrocution

Our bodies don’t store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to administer first aid to them.

  • Wearing metal on your body attracts lightning

If you have metal on your body, this makes very little difference in determining where lightning will strike. The primary discriminators include: height, isolation, and shape. However, touching, or being near objects, such as a fence are unsafe when thunderstorms are nearby. If lightning does happen to hit one area of a metal fence the metal can operate as a conductor and electrocute you.

  • A house is always safe in a lightning storm

A house is the safest place during a storm, but just going inside isn’t the only thing. Avoid any conducting path in the house, such as TV cables, plumbing, metal doors or metal window frames. Stay away from windows.

  • Surge suppressors protect a home against lightning

Surge arrestors and suppressors are important safety factors in home safety. However, they do nothing to protect a structure against a direct lightning strike. They can protect your sensitive electronic equipment, however.

The bottom line is this: Lightning as well as other natural disasters happen every day. When you understand these perils, it becomes a more manageable