Atmosphere And Weather

Lightning Safety

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Lightning storms are rather frightening experiences for just about anyone. The sights and the sounds, the lightning and the thunder, are enough to make a lightning storm less-than-pleasurable for most - and the prospect of being struck by lightning during that storm can make being outside downright terrifying.

Determining the safest place to be while enduring a lightning storm requires a brief education on the nature of lightning. Though the process by which lightning is formed in a cloud is yet unknown, what is known is that the charge of the lightning is typically drawn downwards, towards the ground. (It can also travel across clouds, though don't necessarily bank on that happening.) When the lightning comes down it does so within moments, and apparently can be detected via one's hair standing on end or a tingling sensation in the body. By this point it may be too late to avoid the lightning, unfortunately.

Lightning will then travel down, through the object, and into the ground where it dissipates. If it goes through a human then that human will suffer all the ill effects associated with thousands of volts of electricity, often bringing death. If there is something in the way of that lightning - like, say, a golf club or a pole - the lightning will strike there first, then down into the human, then into the ground. If it hits the top of a roof the lightning will flow through the metallic supports of that building and, again, into the ground.

So what's the safest place? It's pretty simple: indoors, away from any metallic objects that may be able to carry a charge. Water is a no-no, as well, as it conducts electricity rather easily. Taking a bath or a shower during a lightning storm could prove a death warrant, and talking on a wired phone can be just as bad as the lightning can travel through the wiring and into a person's body.

It's worth noting, too, that simply being under an object is not necessarily enough to save you. A tent, for example, or a tall tree, is not enough to ward off lightning, and being in a car can prove similarly dangerous. You need a fairly complex structure that is safely grounded to avoid getting shocked by a lightning strike. Whenever a lightning storm looks to be brewing on the horizon, get indoors as quickly as you can to avoid this deadly phenomenon, and enjoy the view from a safe location - preferably away from any open windows.

Source: Lightning Safety Tips

More about this author: Matt Bird

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