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what is lightning

NOAA Statistics and Facts About Lightning

Lightning and People

  • Lightning kills 20 or more people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured.
  • 85% of lightning victims are children and young with a mean age between 10-35
  • 70% of all lightning injuries and fatalities occur in the afternoon.
  • Many survivors of lightning strikes report that immediately before being struck, their hair was standing on end and they had a metallic taste in their mouth.
  • Long-term injuries from lightning strike can include memory and attention loss, chronic numbness, muscle spasm, stiffness, depression, hearing loss and sleep disturbance.
  • Americans are twice as likely to die from a lightning-related death than from a tornado, hurricane or flood.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates there are 200 deaths and 750 severe injuries from lightning each year in the US.
  • 20% of all lightning victims die from the strike.

Lightning Homes and Buildings

  • Lightning experts and residential insurance companies estimate that with a properly installed lightning protection system it prevents 99 percent of damage that would have occurred
  • The number of lightning-caused U.S. homeowners insurance claims decreased in 2020 yet the average cost of those claims more than doubled since 2017
  • If the structure does not have a lightning rod, lightning will normally strike the highest point of the building and look for a way to earth in an uncontrolled way; through antennas, concrete structure, pipes or cables. This current flow can cause breakages, sparks and damage to people and equipment inside.
  • Lightning Strikes are estimated to be apporx 50,000 degrees
  • 70% of survivors will suffer serious long-term effects.

How to Prevent a Lightning Strike to you or others

  • The number of lightning-caused U.S. homeowners insurance claims decreased in 2020 yet the average cost of those claims more than doubled since 2017
  • If the structure does not have a lightning rod, lightning will normally strike the highest point of the building and look for a way to earth in an uncontrolled way; through antennas, concrete structure, pipes or cables. This current flow can cause breakages, sparks and damage to people and equipment inside.
  • Lightning Strikes are estimated to be approx. 50,000 degrees
  • 70% of survivors will suffer serious long-term effects.

Tips from the CDC

Outdoor Safety Tips

  • Always get current information on weather before planning an outdoor event
  • Listen for thunder coming towards You and find a safe location to wait the storm out. Homes, offices, shopping centers, and hard-top vehicles with the windows rolled up.
  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges, or peaks.
  • Never lie flat on the ground. Crouch down in a ball-like position
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree.
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
  • Immediately get out of and away from ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.).

Indoor Safety Tips

  • Do NOT bathe, shower, wash dishes, or have any other contact with water during a thunderstorm because lightning can travel through a building’s plumbing.
  • Avoid electronic equipment
  • Do NOT use your computers, laptops, game systems, washers, dryers, stoves, or anything connected to an electrical outlet. Lightning can travel through electrical systems, radio and television reception systems, and any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring. Equip your home with whole-house surge protectors to protect your appliances.
  • Corded phones are NOT safe to use during a thunderstorm. Do NOT use them. However, it is safe to use cordless or cellular phones during a storm.
  • Avoid windows, doors, porches, and concrete
  • Do NOT lie on concrete floors during a thunderstorm. Also, avoid leaning on concrete walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
  • Pets and Farm Animals, remove any metal collars, leashes, or harnesses and replace with plastic.
what is lightning