Stay Safe: Know the Facts about Lightning

Stay Safe Around Lightning

By Mike Bartoletti, Licensed Electrician, CMB Development


Facts About Lightning

All that energy travels along a path about as wide as a thumb!

The streamer can travel up through a building, a tree, or even a person, which can be fatal. Lightning kills about 2,000 people a year, so stay inside during lightning storms.

How hot is a lightning bolt? Only about 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit-roughly five times hotter than the surface of the sun!

The average striking length of a regular lightning is about 2 to 3 miles and carries electricity of nearly I 00 million volts.

Lightning flashes more than 3 million times a day worldwide-that’s about 40 times a second. Not all those flashes hit the ground-some happen between or inside clouds.

Why do you see lightening first and then hear the thunder? Light (670,616,629 mph) travels faster than sound (760 mph) and that’s why lightning strike can be seen first and then the thunder can be heard. It is because of this speed difference between light and sound that it is actually possible to calculate the distance of storm.

If you start counting the instant you see the flash of lightning, every second is equal to approximately .2 of a mile.

Safety and Lightning

Phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the United States. Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas.

Do not lie on the concrete floor of a garage as it likely contains a wire mesh. In general, basements are a safe place to go during thunderstorms. However, avoid contact with. concrete walls, which may contain metal reinforcing bars.

Avoid washers and dryers, since they not only have contacts with the plumbing and electrical systems but also contain an electrical path to the outside through the dryer vent.

Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.

Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.

Victims of lightning do not retain the charge and are not “electrified.” It is safe to help them. Rubber shoes will not give you any meaningful protection from lightning.

Lightning can, and often does, strike in the same place twice. Tall buildings and monuments are frequently hit by lightning.

A motor car with a metal top can offer you some protection-but keep your hands from the metal sides.

An umbrella can increase your chances of being struck by lightning if it makes you the tallest object in the area.

Always avoid being the highest object or taking shelter near or under the highest object including tall trees. Avoid being near a lightning rod or standing near metal objects such as a fence or underground pipes.

For more information about lightning or anything electrical, contact Mike Bartoletti, CMB Development, at (520) 850-7722.