Published: 2011-03-01 07:26:00
Updated: 2011-03-01 11:47:55
Posted March 1, 2011 7:26 a.m. EST
Updated March 1, 2011 11:47 a.m. EST
Lightning is one of the most popular topics I discuss when I give talks at local schools and businesses. Unfortunately, sometimes people are unaware of some life saving information about lightning.
Growing up as a kid, we were always told to get out of the pool or off the playing field when storms approached. That’s still the same for kids today, but the reason for heading indoors varies from individual to individual. I’ve heard coaches tell kids they don’t have to worry about the storm until they hear thunder. For this reason, I started asking people what they knew about thunder and lightning. Through this process, I found that most people aren’t aware that lightning causes thunder. This means that even if you hear thunder but don’t see lightning, you can bet on the fact that lightning is now close enough to strike you.
Lightning occurs when there is a discharge of electricity which is triggered by a buildup of differing electrical charges within a cloud. The flash of lightning heats the air, creating a loud shock wave that we hear as thunder.
Because staying safe is the most important thing I want you to take away from this blog, here are some easy ways to protect yourself. If you are outdoors when a thunderstorm approaches, stop what you are doing and go inside. Buildings are the safest place, but you can also go to a car. If you are at home when the storm hits, stay away from windows and any item that is plugged into an electrical outlet or phone lines. It’s also best to stay out of the shower. Make sure your windows are shut and that you stand as far away from the outside as you can. Even if you are in your car, the windows must be closed.
Lightning frequently strikes tall objects, so taking shelter under trees is never a good idea. Believe it or not, I had a coach tell my child’s soccer team to do that one day! If you find that shelter is not available, then the best thing to do is crouch low to the ground and draw yourself into a ball if you can.
The electrical charge from lightning is strong enough to stop your heart. Your chance of surviving a lightning strike ranges from 5% to 30%, but the odds improve if someone nearby knows CPR. A person struck by lightning needs immediate medical attention. The victim is completely safe to touch, even right after being struck. They cannot shock you, either.
Now that we’ve covered how to stay safe, we can move on to some interesting facts about lightning.
I hope you enjoyed the lightning blog and gained a better understanding of what lightning is capable of doing. Keeping my family safe during storms is very important to me. The next time a storm approaches you, I hope these safety tips will help keep your family safe too.