Myths and facts about thunderstorms

thunderstormWith the current hot summer in much of America, thunderstorm season is inevitable. Thunderstorms occur when large air masses rise quickly into the atmosphere, forming huge cumulonimbus clouds. Severe air currents inside the clouds cause water droplets and ice crystals to crash into one another continually, and the friction between these particles creates static electricity in the cloud. When these opposing charges become intense, lightning occurs.

There are many myths about this type of storm. Did you know that rubber shoes do nothing to protect you from lightning? That talking on the telephone is the leading cause of lightning injuries inside the home? That standing under a tall tree is one of the most dangerous places to take shelter? Here are a few myths that we’d like to discredit:

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object.

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.

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: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.
Fact: Lightning victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.

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.

Myth: If it is not raining, there is no danger from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes away from rainfall. It may occur as far as ten miles away from any rainfall.

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.

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