What you need to know to stay safe when lightning strikes

Weather

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Though being struck by lightning is uncommon, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings during a storm. 

Research from the National Geographic shows a single bolt of lightening can carry up to one billion volts of electricity. 

Experts say there are multiple ways lightning can hurt, and even kill people. Tall structures like church steeples are also at high risk. 

 “One rule of thumb is if you hear thunder you’re too close to the lightning,” Kyle Dennis, Storm Team 3 Meteorologist said. “You are in danger of being struck. If you’re outside and you can hear thunder, even if you don’t see lightning, there’s lightning. Because lightning is what produces the thunder.”

There are multiple ways that lightning can hurt people:

  • Direct strike: often deadly
  • Contact injury: when lightning strikes an object the victim is touching 
  • Side flash: when lightning splashes or bounces off an object, like a tree or another person, onto the victim
  • Ground current injury: when the strike passes through the ground into the victim
  • Streamer injury: when electrically charged air comes in contact with the victim
  • Blast injury: caused by thunder, vibrations can rupture ear drums or throw victims

Bottom line, lightning can be harmful without directly striking a person, so the most important thing to do is take storms seriously. 

 “Just be aware,” Chelsea Sawyer, CEMA Emergency Management Coordinator said. “I think a lot of times people become complacent and think, oh it’s just another thunderstorm, but every single time you choose not to follow those warnings, that’s one more chance you have to potentially get injured.” 
 

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