Did you know that bodily injuries and even death is possible if lightning strikes while you’re inside your home? Of course, we were all taught as children to stay away from water outdoors during a thunderstorm. However, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has a similar warning while indoors during a thunderstorm.
Do People Really Get Struck By Lightning That Often?
What are the odds of lightning striking you? About 1 in 15,300 according to Britannica.com. Furthermore, they state about 270 people are hit by lightning each year in the United States alone. The average is 2000 per year when you include the entire planet. That’s a lot of people being experiencing lightning strikes each year! Although this may be true, only about ten percent are killed by these lightning strikes.
With this in mind, we all think back to our parents’ dire warnings about getting indoors as fast as possible as soon as you hear thunder. I remember counting the seconds between seeing lightning in the distance and when the sound of thunder arrives. Supposedly, if it takes ten seconds to hear thunder after you see a flash of lightning, it means the storm is about ten miles away. I don’t think that’s factual, it’s more like folklore.
It’s never a good idea to remain outdoors when a thunderstorm is approaching. According to CDC.gov, lightning caused an average of 27 deaths per year in the United States between 2006 and 2002. The CDC’s warning is easy to remember: “When thunder roars, go indoors.”
When Lightning Strikes, What Is Safe And What Isn’t?
If you’re outdoors when a thunderstorm is rolling in, find a safe, enclosed shelter. For example, houses, offices, shopping centers and hard-top vehicles are safe refuges. Once you get indoors, stay away from sinks, showers, bathtubs, faucets, water, and electronic equipment plugged into outlets. Lightning can travel through water, plumbing fixtures, electrical systems, corded telephones, and even concrete walls and flooring containing metal wires and bars. Cordless phones and mobile phones are safe, however.
If you cannot find an enclosed shelter during a thunderstorm, CDC.gov recommends staying away from ponds, lakes, pools and other bodies of water. Moreover, you should also avoid high ground, rocky cliffs or overhangs, taking refuge under trees, or any types of open structures. Remember, lightning tends to strike the tallest structures nearby, so avoid them.
Monsoon season isn’t over yet, so these are good reminders for all of us here in the Las Vegas valley.