The Shocking Truth – 3 Common Myths About Lightning Safety

Lightning_14.07.2009_20-42-33Summer brings backyard barbecues, swimming, fishing, and other outdoor activities. But when an afternoon storm crops up, lightning can bring the fun to an abrupt halt.

According to the National Weather Service, lightning kills an average of 49 people in the United States each year, and injures hundreds more. Some of the advice or information you’ve learned about lightning over the years may actually be harmful. As part of National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, we’re dispelling three common myths about lightning.

Myth: If stuck outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree.
Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Seek out a substantial structure that is grounded with plumbing or electrical systems. Avoid small structures or open coverings, as these structures will attract lightning and provide no protection.

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning.
Fact: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you — not the rubber tires. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame and into the ground. For this reason, you should never lean on car doors during a storm. Remember that, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, and open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles offer no protection from lightning.

Myth: If it’s not raining or if the thunder sounds distant, you have time before you need to go inside.
Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of a thunderstorm. This means that if you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. Many lightning casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. Seek proper shelter immediately if you hear thunder.

You can avoid being the victim of a lightning strike by remembering the advice above and following these tips:

  • Remember that no place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area. Seek shelter immediately.
  • If there is no safe shelter close by, move away from ponds, lakes, and swimming pools and head to a low-lying area. Do not stand under a tree.
  • If you are inside during a thunderstorm, stay off corded phones, computers, and other electrical equipment.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths, and faucets.
  • Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.

Staying Healthy this Summer

As you and your family get more active this summer, make the most of it by staying safe and healthy. Find a Lebauer physician near you or give us a call at 336-547-1792. We look forward to helping you feel your best!

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