When thunder is heard while you’re out on a hike or doing yard work, what do you do? There has not been any rain yet, and no lightning has been sighted. What exactly do you do when this happens?


In this post, I offer some lightning safety recommendations that I’ve learned throughout the years—some of which I’m sure you didn’t know. (Did you realize, for example, that lightning can strike you even if the sky is clear?)

I’ve seen several people who have been struck by lightning, and all of them have survived. They generally didn’t get large burns or recall the flash—only an odd odor that usually started immediately before the blow.

People struck by lightning survive, albeit in a severely damaged condition. Each year, several hundred people are struck in the United States, and many thousands across the world. Only about 10% of those who are struck die.

Many individuals, on the other hand, endure long-term difficulties such as short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating or thinking, dizziness, headaches, irritability, depression, chronic pain, and more. No one is immune to all of these problems; however having even a single one or two can be quite debilitating—particularly if they persist.

To figure out how far you are from a lightning strike, divide the amount of time it takes for lightning to flash by 5.

The theory is that light travels at 386,000 miles per second, so for all intents and purposes, we see the light right away—as soon as it hits. Sound, on the other hand, moves much more slowly—about one-fifth of a mile every second.

“[Seconds between lightning & thunder] ÷ 5 = how far away lightning is”

Here are the lightning safety precautions I promised you.

  1. Even if the sky is clear, you can be struck. Lightning may accomplish more than merely traveling up and down. Some movements wander sideways for up to 10 or 20 miles before coming down and striking—basically appearing as though it’s coming from out of the clear blue sky. Because thunder can be heard at a distance of roughly 10 miles, you may do the math.
  2. However, there is a formula. The 30/30 rule can prevent you from suffering 80 percent of strikes. The guideline reminds you to go indoors when the lightning and thunder arrive within 30 seconds (about 6 miles) of each other, and to remain in for 30 minutes afterward.
  3. Now is not the time for a phone conversation. Inside a house is by far the safest location during a storm, since it has normal plumbing and wiring systems that will assist with grounding. But stay away from those fixtures and big windows. Even staying on landline phone contact is not a safe option.
  4. Keep your hands to yourself in the car. Because of the rubber tires and the surrounding metal, a vehicle is a relatively safe location from lightning. Keep the windows up and avoid touching any of the metal interior.
  5. CPR is more likely to be effective in the case of lightning-induced injuries than heart attacks. Lightning strikes kill approximately 10% of those it touches, but some can be saved. The strike causes a person’s heart to stop. If you witness someone being struck and then lose consciousness, begin chest compressions right away. Get an AED as soon if possible in a public place with one nearby.

So, What Should You Do If You’re Found Outside?

You’re not alone if you’re not sure where to go when caught outside during a thunderstorm. The specialists are just as confused. In reality, there isn’t any other safe place aside from inside a vehicle or house.

We do know that you don’t want to be:

  • Near a metal pole or metal structure.
  • In a field or on a boat. Lightning prefers to attack the tallest object in the vicinity.
  • Near the tallest tree. If lighting strikes a tree, it travels down the trunk and tends to emerge sideways, where you’ll be standing.

It’s not safe in any location, whether it be a rock ledge or a lean-to shelter.

However, while some may question the value or wisdom of crouching in a thicket of lesser trees, many have doubted whether doing so is worthwhile. Some people recommend simply continuing to walk and hoping if you are struck you will only have one foot on the ground, thus reducing the harm caused by the strike. Also, if you’re traveling with a group, consider spreading out so that if there’s a hit, at least some of you won’t be impacted and can assist the wounded.

They’re the facts, but they aren’t at all encouraging.

Have you ever had close calls?

Photo by Michelle McEwen/Unsplash

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