Lightning CAN strike twice in the same place!

Do you know how to protect yourself?

It’s summer—when warm air and high humidity combine to create more thunderstorms than in cooler, drier months.

Although thunderstorms can be awe-inspiring—with rolling thunder that deafens the ears and lightning bolts that split the sky—they are dangerous. Much as I’m a fan of the great outdoors, you don’t want to be outside as a thunderstorm approaches.

According to the National Weather Service, lightning strikes in the United States about 25 million times a year. Although deaths by lightning are extremely rare (averaging 20 per year), hundreds of people are severely injured by lightning annually—and who wants that?

Most thunderstorms last about 30 minutes and are about 15 miles across. Do you know what to do to keep yourself safe as a thunderstorm approaches?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about lightning safety. Below, the National Weather Service sets the record straight:

Can you be struck by lightning if the sky overhead is still blue?

The correct answer is YES.

Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. And “bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.

If caught outside during a thunderstorm, should you crouch down to reduce the risk of being struck?

The correct answer is NO.

Fact: Crouching doesn’t make you any safer outdoors. RUN, repeat RUN, to a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle. If you are too far away to reach one of these options, you have no other good alternative. You are NOT safe anywhere outdoors. See the National Weather Service safety page for tips that may slightly reduce your risk.

How about lying flat on the ground? Won’t that reduce my chances of being struck?

This, too, is a MYTH.

Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, keep moving toward a safe shelter.

OK then, what about seeking shelter under a tree? At least I’ll stay dry.


Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. As the NWS says, “Better to get wet than fried!”

But what if I’m in the middle of a game. Can’t we finish the game first?


Fact: Many lightning casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. No game is worth death or life-long injuries. Seek proper shelter immediately if you hear thunder. Adults, you are responsible for the safety of children.

You may also have heard that lightning never strikes the same place twice.

Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit an average of 23 times a year!

Here are two myths about rubber:

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.

Fact: The car’s metal roof and sides protect you, NOT the rubber tires. That means that convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. ALSO: Don’t lean on doors during a thunderstorm.

So that means my rubber-soled shoes offer no insulating protection?


Myth: If you are in a house, you are 100% safe from lightning.

Fact: A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows. Windows are hazardous for two reasons: wind generated during a thunderstorm can blow objects into the window, breaking it and causing glass to shatter, and second, in older homes, in rare instances, lightning can come in cracks in the sides of windows.

Another myth: Structures with metal, or metal on the body (jewelry, cell phones, Mp3 players, watches, etc.), attract lightning.


Fact: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. Natural objects that are tall and isolated, but are made of little to no metal, like trees and mountains, get struck by lightning many times a year. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately by seeking a safe shelter, and don’t waste time removing metal. While metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it so stay away from metal fences, railings, bleachers, etc.

MythA lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.


Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR! When tending to a lightning victim, be aware of the continued threat of lightning, and move yourself and the victim to a safe location as soon as possible.

MythLightning can spread out some 60 feet after striking Earth.


Fact: Radial horizontal arcing has been measured at least 20 m. from the point where lightning hits ground.

Bottom line: get out there and enjoy the great outdoors! Just remember to seek safety if a thunderstorm approaches!

That’s #ModernWellness.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider, who should also be consulted with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.


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