While people may use the phrase ‘You’re more likely to get hit by lightning’ to describe something as unlikely, lightning strikes on people in the USA are far more common than many people imagine. In the average year, lightning kills more people in America than hurricanes and tornadoes combined, making it the second biggest weather related killer on the continent. In fact, a person with a lifespan of 80 years has an estimated 1 in 3000 chance of being struck by lightning (though not necessarily fatally), making it actually a lot more likely than many other things!
So, when you see those telltale storm clouds in the sky or hear the distant rumblings of thunder, what do you need to do to keep yourself safe from harm?
After in water (whether it’s a pool, the ocean, or even on a boat), outdoors is the worst place to be, so the first piece of advice is to get inside a building as fast as you can as soon as you know a storm is coming. If you can’t get in a building, then get in a vehicle, though make sure it is fully sealed up. You want a hard top car with all of the windows and the sunroof closed. It’s actually the body of the car that will protect you, not, as some people think, the tires.
If you are stuck outdoors and can’t get to shelter, as most people are aware you should never stand near anything tall or metal. Metal fences, poles, tall trees and fences must be avoided. Head for low ground and try and take shelter.
If you get the sensation that your skin is prickling or you feel your hair stand on end, it is possible that a lightning strike may be about to occur. Don’t panic, but assume a position with as little of your body as possible touching the ground – crouch low balancing on just the balls of your feet.
You are much safer indoors, but don’t assume that there is no risk. Lightning can jump from electrical sockets, metal things like your faucets, and window frames to you, so stay in the middle of a room away from anything like this. Keep your windows firmly shut and don’t stand near them watching the storm.
Avoid using your telephone landline unless your phone is cordless. It is possible for lightning to hit the phone line and travel down the cord to hit you. You must also avoid running water. Never even think about taking a shower or bathing when a thunderstorm is coming or happening.
If you hear something that makes you think something outside you house has been hit, don’t try and investigate any storm damage until you are absolutely certain the storm is over.
If you see somebody who has been hit by a bolt of lightning, make sure you get medical assistance for them immediately, even if they seem to be dead. In a lot of cases people who have been killed by lightning strikes can be revived if attended to fast enough.
Eidur Johanson is a professional handyman and part time blogger. He shares his experiences through his articles and also provides solutions and information to people, so that they can be prepared to face any calamity.