Often we only see it from a distance, but lightning can be extremely dangerous, reaching up to temperatures of 27,000 degrees Celsius. You can be struck by lightning even if the centre of the storm is 10 miles away and you are in blue skies, and it’s estimated that around 100 lightning bolts strike the earth every second.
But how do you protect yourself against the dangers of lightning? Contrary to common belief, wearing rubber shoes offers no protection at all, and you don’t have to be directly hit by a lightning strike to be electrocuted.
Stay away from open areas
Standing in the middle of a field, or a car park is a bad idea, as lightning tends to strike the tallest object around. In this case, that could be you. Similarly, avoid shelter under tall, metal objects as not only could these be the tallest objects around but also attract lightning themselves.
Get in to the nearest car
Although getting inside a large metal object might not seem ideal, cars are actually one of the safest places to be during a storm.
Don’t use your phone
Using corded phones is extremely dangerous inside the house, and is the leading cause of indoor injuries. The lightning can actually travel through telephone cables straight in to your device.
If your hair stands on end, get indoors
Your hair standing on end is caused by charged particles travelling through your body towards the storm, which isn’t a good sign. Seek shelter as soon as possible.
Avoid having a shower
During a storm, even your plumbing is a potential target for lightning. Avoid using any taps, or even washing your clothes as your washing machine is just as dangerous.
Lightning often strikes twice
Lightning commonly strikes in the same place more than once, contrary to the popular myth. If you see somewhere that has just been struck by lightning, get out of the area.
It is possible to protect you and your house from lightning with the aid of a lightning protection system. This consists of a metal rod attached to the top of your roof which provides and ‘easy route’ for the lightning to take, preventing damage to your home.
Don’t play in the rain
Flying a kite or carrying an umbrella is a bad idea during a storm. This may seem like common sense but rest assured it’s probably happened before. Throw them away and get to cover.
Don’t go for a swim
Swimming can also be extremely dangerous, with water being such a prevalent conductor of electricity. Remember to dry yourself off when you get out the water.
Know the odds
The likelihood of being struck by lightning each year is around 1.2 million. This may not seem like particularly high odds but there’s always a chance it could be you, with around 50 people each year struck in the UK. However, remember these pointers and you should be much better off next time there’s a storm.