Severe Weather Safety Tips: Lightning

By KBJR News 1

May 16, 2012 Updated May 16, 2012 at 9:53 PM CDT

Lightning kills an average of 44 people every year in the United States.
Lightning strikes are quite rare but they do happen.
So what do you do if you're caught outdoors during a lightning storm?

The first thing if you're caught outdoors in a lightning storm is to move away from trees or other tall objects. The next thing is to look for someplace to get inside. If that's not possible get in your car. Some say a car's tires will ground you but it's actually the metal encapsulation that protects you. It directs the electrical current around you. So don't count on your car if it's a convertible. It is important to point out that cars can pose other dangers particularly in high winds and hail so it's obviously better to find a sturdy structure.

But if you find yourself in a situation in which you don't have a car or a building and you suddenly find that your hair is stand on end...that's bad. It means you are an ideal candidate for a lightning strike and you need to act fast. Crouch down on the balls of your feet like this...and cover your ears.

It's important to make as little contact with the surface of the earth as possible, because if lightning strikes anywhere near you it will travel through the earth to you.

If you're lying flat the current will go through your whole body. If you're in a crouching position it makes you less of a target. You will need to cover your ears because it's going to be loud.

Lightning can be 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 4 times as hot as the surface of the sun. It can strike from 10–15 miles away and can strike even when there are no clouds in the sky.

The slogan to remember is when thunder roars head indoors!

Adam Clark
Chief Meteorologist