Tips on how to keep you and your family safe from lightning

As we head into the deadliest month in regards to lightning strikes, you should make sure you have the information you need to stay safe if thunderstorms are nearby.

Posted: Jun 21, 2019 3:21 PM
Updated: Jun 22, 2019 8:50 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - When we talk about risks during thunderstorms, we often talk about strong winds, hail, and recently heavy rain, but lightning can also be a killer.

On average, every year in the United States, 300 people are struck by lightning and this month alone, 3 people have died.

Thunderstorms are awe-inspiring works of nature, it's why we chase and photograph them, but they're often dangerous.

You hear meteorologists say when thunder roars, go indoors. That's because any number of threats from thunderstorms can kill you, including lightning.

There are some common myths out there when it comes to lightning safety, and they could put you in serious danger.

When you were younger, you were probably told that if you count the seconds between when you see lightning and hear thunder, that's how many miles away the storm is. So, if you hear thunder after 1 second, it's 1 mile away.

That's false.

There's a lot of physics and math that goes into determining how far away a lightning strike is and it depends on air temperature (and thus density), direction of the wind in relation to the storm and the observer, and if there are any obstructions in the way to hinder the soundwave (i.e. thunder) created by the lightning. 

If we use standard measurements of the atmosphere, we find that on average, if you hear thunder after 1 second, that storm is actually a lot closer, between 0.2 and 0.25 miles away.

Another myth we hear is that the rubber tires on your car keep you safe from lightning. That's also false.

A Florida man died on June 9th after he was riding his motorcycle during a storm and he was struck by lightning through his helmet. It's actually the hard metal roof and glass that protects you from lightning.

Some often think if you're caught outside during a storm, that crouching reduces the risk of getting struck by lightning, which is simply not true.

You need to seek a sturdy shelter during storms. A building with metal pipes and wiring, or get to a car with a hard metal roof and rolled up windows

There are many other myths surrounding lightning, but as we head into July, the deadliest month for lightning deaths, hopefully this information will help keep you and your family safe.

If you want to learn more on how to keep safe from lightning, click here.

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