· Each year there are 25,300,000 lightning strikes in the
· The air around a lightning strike is heated to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
What is Lightning?
Lightning is an electrical discharge that results from the buildup of
positive and negative charges within a thunderstorm. When the buildup becomes
strong enough, lightning appears as a “bolt”. This flash of light usually
occurs within the clouds or between the clouds and ground. The rapid heating
and cooling of air near the lightning causes thunder.
Lightning is a major threat during a thunderstorm. In the United States,
between 75 and 100 Americans are hit and killed each year by lightning.
Between 400 and 500 injuries from lightning occur each year requiring medical
attention. It is a myth that lightning never strikes twice in the same place.
In fact, lightning will strike several times in the same place in the course
of one discharge.
Lightning is the most consistent and significant weather hazard. While the
probability of being struck by lightning is extremely low, the odds are
significantly greater when a storm is in the area and the proper safety
precautions are not followed.
The following steps are recommended by the National Severe Storms Laboratory
(NSSL) to protect youself:
1)Monitor the weather. If you obtain a flash to bang count of 30 seconds,
you should leave the outside area and seek safe shelter. Your work outside
may have to be interrupted.
The existence of blue sky and the absence of rain are not protection from
lightning. Lightning can, and does, strike as far as 10 miles away from the
rain shaft. It does not have to be raining for lightning to strike.
If no safe structure is around, go to a vehicle. If no vehicle is
available, assume a crouched position on the ground with only the balls of
the feet touching the ground. Wrap your arms around your knees and lower your
head. Minimize contact with the ground because lightning current often enters
a victim through the ground rather than by a direct overhead strike. Minimize
your body’s surface area, and minimize contact with the ground! Do not lie
flat! If you are unable to reach safe shelter, stay away from the tallest
trees or objects (such as light poles or flag poles), metal objects (such as
fences or bleachers), individual trees, standing pools of water, and open
fields. Avoid being the highest object in a field. Do not take shelter under
a single tree.
A person who feels his hair stand on end, or skin tingle, should
immediately crouch, as described in item 3.
Avoid using the telephone, except in emergency situations. People have
been struck by lightning while using a land-line telephone. A cellular phone
or a portable remote is a safe alternative to land-line phones, if the person
and the antenna are located within a safe structure or location, and if all
other precautions are followed.
To resume work, wait 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning or sound
of thunder before returning to the activity.
People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical
charge. Therefore, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is safe for the responder.
If possible, an injured person should be moved to a safer location before
starting CPR. Lightning strike victims who show signs of cardiac or
respiratory arrest need emergency help quickly. Prompt, aggressive CPR has
been highly effective for the survival of victims of lightning strikes.
At any given moment, nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are in progress over the
surface of the earth.
On average, the United States gets 100,000 thunderstorms each year.
Approximately 1,000 tornadoes develop from these storms.
Approximately 10,000 forest fires are started each year by lightning.
Approximately $100 million in annual losses result from forest and building
fires caused by lightning.