Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it's a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building was once used as a lightning laboratory, since it's hit nearly 25 times per year.
Myth: If it's not raining, or if clouds aren't overhead, you're safe from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or even thunderstorm cloud. "Bolts from the Blue," though infrequent, can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm. Anvil lightning can strike the ground over 50 miles from the thunderstorm, under extreme conditions.
Myth: Rubber tires protect you from lightning in a car by insulating you from the ground.
Fact: Most cars are reasonably safe from lightning, but it's the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, not the rubber tires. Thus convertibles, motorcycles, bikes, open shelled outdoor recreation vehicles, and cars with plastic or fiberglass shells offer no lightning protection.
Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you'll be electrocuted.
Fact: The human body doesn't store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid.
Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, go under a tree to stay dry.
Fact: Being underneath trees is the second leading activity for lightning casualties.
Myth: A house will keep you safe from lightning.
Fact: While a house is a good place for lightning safety, just going inside isn't enough. You must avoid any conducting path leading outside, such as corded telephones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, plumbing, metal doors or window frames, etc. Don't stand near a window to watch the lightning. An inside room is generally best.
Myth: Wearing metal on your body (jewelry, watches, glasses, backpacks, etc.), attracts lightning.
Fact: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes virtually no difference where the lightning strikes. While metal doesn't attract lightning, touching or being near long metal objects (fences, railings, bleachers, vehicles, etc.) is still unsafe when thunderstorms are nearby. If lightning does happen to hit it, the metal can conduct the electricity a long distance and still electrocute you.
Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, lay flat on the ground.
Fact: Lightning induces electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly over 100 feet away. While lying flat on the ground gets you as low as possible, it increases your chance of being hit by a ground current. The best combination of being low and touching the ground as little as possible is the 'lightning crouch': put your feet together, squat low, tuck your head, and cover your ears.
- Each spark of lightning can soar to 50,000 Degrees Fahrenheit.
- There are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress at any given time on Earth.
- Lightning has been known to strike 10 miles from the storm in an area of clear sky above.
- The longest bolt of lightning seen to date was 118 miles long. It was seen in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
- Lightning strikes 30 million points on the ground in a given year in the U.S.
- Lightning injures approximately 1,000 people each year.