Shocking: Lightning Safety Tips

By: Glen Wieland


We live in a lightning capital of the world. Recently, three cars were driving on Interstate 4 and were struck by lightning, blowing out windows and frying electrical systems, causing power failure to all three vehicles. Everyone was able to get off the road safely but the damage to the cars was severe. As a rule, I thought sitting in a car during an electrical storm was safe because of the car’s rubber tires. I also assumed it was safe to run under a tree during a thunderstorm.

Well, I was partially wrong. Never run under a tree, as it can attract lightning and, with roots under your feet, you are likely to be hurt if lightning does strike. Getting in a car may be safer, but not because of the tires. Safety from the immense power of the lightning bolt is due to the metal of the car, which dissipates the electricity. No place outside is completely safe from a lightning strike. Get inside and do not sit near a window to watch the storm. People have been injured when lightning struck and penetrated the glass.

If outside, stay away from anything that can conduct electricity. Remember what you learned in school – metal (including fences) and water (such as lakes and ponds) are all great conductors of electricity. If you cannot get inside, get away from standing water, find a low spot and crouch down, but never lay flat on the ground. Laying flat, as opposed to on your rubber souls, may increase your risk of being shocked by electricity traveling along the wet ground.

If you are inside, stay off the phone, away from faucets and definitely do not take a bath or shower. Remember, lightning can strike when it is not raining or when the storm appears to be several miles away. Do not take a chance. It is not safe to go back outside until at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder or flash of lightning is seen. When playing outside, do not play with lightning — you will lose ever time, as each lightning bolt carries 5,000,000,000 joules of electricity. Very shocking indeed!


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