A lightning bolt can be an awe-inspiring, dramatic phenomenon. But, along with its striking appearance comes potential risks. Every thunderstorm is dangerous, Ready.gov reports. That’s why it’s important to know what to do to help keep your loved ones safe when severe weather strikes. Here are five common myths about lightning and the truth behind them.
Tell that to the Empire State Building. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the iconic Manhattan skyscraper is hit an average of 23 times each year. Lightning often strikes the same place over and over, NOAA notes — particularly if it’s a tall, pointy object.
According to NOAA, this is a leading cause of lightning injuries. Anything tall, such as a tree, is a common target for lightning. Plus, should the tree be hit by lightning, it may fall. If you can’t get inside safely, go to a low area if possible, such as a ravine or valley, says Ready.gov.
While it can be safer than being outside, about one-third of all lightning-related injuries happen indoors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Lightning can enter your home through phone lines, electrical cords, electrical appliances, metal door and window frames, and even your building’s plumbing. The American Red Cross recommends that you do not talk on landlines, use electrical appliances, or take showers or baths during a lightning storm.
Rubber tires or rubber-soled shoes provide no protection from lightning, according to Ready.gov, although your car is a relatively safe place to be during a lightning storm. The steel frame of a hard-topped car is what helps protect you — just don’t touch the metal or any surfaces that conduct electricity while you’re in the vehicle.
“Bolts from the blue” can strike 10 to 15 miles from a thunderstorm, NOAA reports. Ready.gov adds that the unpredictability of lightning increases its risk.
By debunking these common myths, you may be able to help protect your family when thunderclouds are on the horizon.