Tips for Thought

How To Keep Yourself Safe From Lightning Strikes

Many people are aware of possible danger when the skies darken and echoes of thunder roar through the air. When clouds gather, electricity charges form in the clouds’ imbalance and ground form. When it discharges, it releases a “lightning strike” that usually hits the ground.

Why Are Lightning Strikes Dangerous?

Lighting strikes are dangerous because these strikes or shots are extremely hot. A single lightning bolt can contain at least a billion volts of electricity, which can instantly kill individuals.

According to the National Geographic website, at least 2,000 people a year are killed by lightning. Survivors, who managed to brave through the worst, may suffer from its after-effects, including the following:

  • Weakness;
  • Dizziness;
  • Memory loss;
  • Numbness;
  • Cardiac arrest; and
  • Severe burns with scarring

Aside from human harm, lightning strikes can destroy trees, posts, and property—resulting in after-effects like fire and property destruction.

How to Avoid Lightning Strikes

While we certainly can’t control the weather, we can use technology to predict when it’ll happen. Here are some essential tips on what to do if there’s a lightning storm:

1. Check the weather forecast. Local weather news channels offer updates on various phenomena like rain, storms, and earthquakes. Make it a habit to check the weather regularly so you can plan your activities accordingly.

2. Reschedule activities if necessary. If there are possible signs of thunderstorms coming in later, consider rescheduling your plans later.

3. Get property insurance. Homeowners will be happy to know that many insurance companies offer protection from lightning strikes.

4. Practice indoor safety tips. Some of these include the following:

  • Avoid skin contact with water like baths, showers, and washing dishes. Lightning can travel through the plumbing system, which is quite shocking (literally and figuratively).
  • Avoid using electronic equipment. Lightning also travels through electrical systems, particularly radio and television reception systems. However, any metal wires or bars in walls or flooring also pose a risk of conducting electricity. If your home is designed like this, invest in a home lightning protection system and surge protectors, especially if you’re in a lightning-prone area.
  • Avoid using phones with cords. Stick to cordless or cell phones during a storm.

If You’re Outdoors:

Suppose you’re outside and are suddenly stuck in the middle of a storm. Here are some ways how to avoid lightning strikes outdoors:

1. Check for possible safe places to go.

  • Avoid places like hills, mountains, and peaks during storms. In addition, it’s also best to avoid bodies of water like lakes, ponds, and rivers.
  • Do not seek shelter under trees or structures that conduct electricity, like power lines, telephone poles, and barbed fences.
  • Do not lie down flat if you’re in open grounds. Instead, crouch in a ball-like position, tuck your head and shield your ears with your hands when you’re down to limit your contact with the ground.

2. Go indoors immediately or seek shelter in buildings that are enclosed. Places like a shop or a mall are safe areas to head to. Stay away from open structures like stadiums or outdoor arenas. Remember to crouch low during movement and move fast toward a shelter.

3. Stay in vehicles with hard tops. Vehicles like motorcycles and convertibles are not safe from possible strikes.

4. If you’re in a group, spread out. Spreading out reduces the chances of injury and possible panic.

5. Wait it out. If you’re inside and wish to check outside, wait at least half an hour after seeing lightning or thunder.

6. If you see someone hurt, contact emergency services immediately. Call 9-1-1 or any emergency contact number if you’ve seen an injured person. If the person is unconscious, move them to a safe area and administer first aid immediately. Be ready to give CPR if necessary.

Takeaway: Lightning strikes can be dangerous but are easily avoidable. Nevertheless, encourage children to always “head indoors when thunder roars.”