What to do when lightning strikes - AmericaNowNews.com

What to do when lightning strikes

Lightning is the most underestimated deadly force of nature. Every year, hundreds of Americans are killed or permanently disabled by these bolts from the sky. Fortunately, we have the safety precautions to reduce your chances of ever being struck.

The heat produced by a lightning bolt is five times hotter than the surface of the sun - but that's not what kills you, says top meteorologist Mark Jackson.

"People can be burned from a lightning strike. But really, the deadly aspect of that lightning strike occurs when the heart stops," he explains.

Jackson works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He says most Americans underestimate lightning's lethal power.

"Most people die from lightning strikes when they're outside. When people watch thunderstorms, they listen to thunder, they watch the lightning, they get lulled into thinking that it's a fascinating, safe phenomenon to sit back and watch," says Jackson. "And if you haven't experienced it yourself, many times you may not give it the respect that it deserves."

At least 85 people across the country are killed by lightning each year. Hundreds more will be hit and survive, but will most likely suffer serious injuries.

"If you're caught outside, know your surroundings. Know where you aren't safe," Jackson explains. "You want to avoid tall objects, such as trees. A tree can attract lightning. Metal fences, metal bleachers. All are dangerous. Stay away from metal playground equipment. Shelters without walls and metal picnic tables are not safe shelter from a thunderstorm. Where you want to be is in your metal-topped car, with the windows up, the radio off, and avoid touching any of the metal."

Jackson also says that you're not completely safe from lightning even if you're indoors.

"You should stay away from electrical appliances," he says. "Don't use the phone. Don't use an iron. You should also stay away from water and plumbing. That electricity can make it's way through the plumbing of the house, so don't use the sink. You should also not take a shower or take a bath. Wait it out in a safe place."

Waiting for about 30 minutes is a good rule of thumb to use, because by that amount of time, the thunderstorm has moved past.

So, the next time you're in the vicinity of a thunderstorm, don't get lulled into sitting back and watching the show -- make sure you get to safe place.

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