Lightning is lethal. Fact. In fact, almost 350 people in the United States became victims of lightning strike from the year 2003 to 2012. And although only 10% of these individuals actually died because of the incident, the rest were not able to escape its severe long-term effects. Lightning can strike anytime and anywhere. In fact, a young girl in the Philippines became a recent victim of this as she was sitting outside the balcony of her neighbor’s house while waiting for the rain to stop. It is an unpredictable force of nature. Therefore, we need to prepare if it’s going to strike our area anytime soon. In this post, we are going to tackle this emergency checklist on how to stay alive when lightning strikes and better our chances of surviving when the unthinkable happens.
Lightning is a type of electrostatic discharge that often occurs during a thunder storm. It is produced when the negatively charged air particles in the clouds (particularly, cumulus-nimbus clouds) will react to the positive ion particles in the earth’s surface causing the opposing particles to produce electricity, like in a battery. The electricity will try to reach the ground in flashes, forcing it “branch out” as it heads to the surface with bolts having a charge of about 150 kA which is enough to power 5-6 homes.
We just learned how powerful lightning can be. Now try to imagine this amount of current flowing through your body at an instant… Will you be able to survive? Not likely. So it’s better to be prepared that to be fried-out. Here are some things you need to follow whenever lightning strikes:
- Assume the best position – According to the Art Of Manliness, every person can assume a safe position if they are trapped outside and lightning is about to strike and this is called the “Baseball Catcher” position:
- Expect the unexpected – When the hair in your body is slowly rising up and you feel your skin is tingling, then this is a sign that lightning is about to strike. Assume the crouch position immediately.
- Crouch but don’t lie down – Go as low as you can but NEVER lie down. The lower you are, the better the chances of avoiding a lightning strike.
III. Cover your ears – This will prevent you from suffering possible injuries which can impair your ability to hear due to the loud sound of thunder as the lightning will hit the ground.
- Touch your heels together – This will enable the electricity to escape your body as it enters through your foot and exiting on the other.
- Extend your feet as high as possible – The balls of your feet should be the only part of your body that is touching the ground. This will lessen the possibility of the electricity to pass through your body after the lightning hits the surface.
- Run to a lightning-proof shed or to your car if you still have time to do it – A lightning-proof metal shed or your car is a great protection to avoid the harmful effects of a lightning strike as these objects will act as a Faraday Cage which allows the current to pass through the conductor without even harming what’s inside. The Faraday cage/suit was invented by Michael Faraday when he did experiments about electricity during the 1800’s. Today, electrical linemen employ the use of this device whenever they need to work high-voltage powered environment.
- Follow the ‘30-30 rule’ – Don’t be stupid enough to stay outside when a storm is coming your way. Use the 30-30 rule to determine the distance of the storm. To do this, observe the first lightning you can see then count how many seconds until you hear the thunder from your location (which is about 30 seconds or less). If you hear the thunder after 10 seconds, then the storm is 10 miles away from you and is fast approaching. So run away as fast as you can or seek shelter inside a safe area if possible. Once you hear the last clap of thunder, wait at least 30 minutes before going outside again.
- Things to avoid during a lightning storm – Seeking protection under a tree is not advisable since it is actually one of the many things that are usually struck by lightning. Aside from that, you need to avoid these object or activities when under a lightning storm:
– Wooden objects
– Electrical appliances
– Cellular phones
– Open grounds (picnic sites, ball parks, golf course)
– Doing laundry
– Washing the dishes
– Taking a shower
- Know the data – According to the National Weather Service, about 2/3 of the fatalities caused by lightning occurred while people were doing leisure activities outdoors. The top 10 outdoor activities where people are likely to be struck by lightning are:
- Playing soccer
- Swimming at the beach
VII. Social gatherings
- Walking beside the street
- Doing yard work
Being informed with this survival checklist can save lives. So learn from it, prep up for this situation as much as you can, and don’t hesitate to share it to your friends so they too can survive whenever lightning strikes their way.
About The Author:
Michael Martin is a former Navy Pilot who believes no matter the circumstance, one should always be prepared. Upon entering the civilian world, Michael spent his time traveling the globe and observing different cultures. Growing up in as the son of a serial entrepreneur it was only a matter of time before he took his love of the outdoors and passion for helping others to new heights by founding Bug Out Bag Pro. As a survivalist & entrepreneur, his vision is to help educate and prepare families everywhere with the information, skills and tools to survive any situation they may face!