Each year in the United States, about 20 people are killed by being struck by lightning. There are about 25 million lightning strikes each year in the United States, hitting about 3,000 people. Lightning victims who survive can experience chronic pain, neurological disabilities, and depression because lightning damages the body’s central nervous system.
Recently outside of the U.S. Capitol, three people were killed after being struck by lightning. While no one can see the future, it’s possible that a few precautionary measures could have prevented this tragedy. Read on to see how you can reduce your risk when outdoors.
Before any outing, be sure to check the weather forecast. If there are thunderstorms predicted, you may be in danger, so avoid visiting elevated areas, and avoid open fields.
The National Weather Service likes to use the phrase “when thunder roars, go indoors” as a way to remind people to take shelter from the potential danger of lightning deaths.
When retreating indoors, be sure it is a fully enclosed area, open structures, such as a porch aren’t enough. You want to be inside a building or hard-top vehicles.
In the DC tragedy, the victims huddled under a tree which led to them being struck. During storms, lighting tends to strike the tallest object around, so trees, and utility poles, etc. should be avoided at all costs as they will draw in lighting. If you should find yourself in a field and lightning is around, lie flat. Lying flat on the ground will offer you some protection, however, the best practice is if you hear thunder, seek shelter and avoid elevated areas when storms are in the forecast.
Remember, lighting can travel, so even if you are indoors, don’t use corded phones as lightning can travel through the lines in your home.
Following these tips will help to protect you from lighting strikes and keep you safe, however, to keep your home safe, you’ll want a lighting rod. Properly installed, lightning rods intercept strikes, providing a safe path for lightning current into the ground. They do not decrease the likelihood your home may be struck, but provide a direct path to the ground, preventing damage to your home from fire, explosion, and electrical surges that can result from lightning strikes.