5 Facts on Lightning Safety to Keep You Safe

Credit: Facebook friend and viewer Ann Mellema over the Naples Beach and Pier


NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida

The NBC2 Investigators and the First Alert Storm Team are working together to keep you safe from lightning.

Lightning has struck two people and two buildings since the end of June.

We came up with a game of True or False on assumptions people have about lightning.

1. True or False: It’s not raining here, and skies above me are clear, therefore I am safe from lightning.

False. Lightning can strike many miles away from the thunderstorm. If storms are in your area but skies happen to be clear above you, that certainly does not imply you are safe from lightning. Though they are infrequent, lightning strikes 10 to 15 miles away from the storm are not out of the question.

2. True or False: The rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being struck by lightning.

False. Rubber soles of shoes and rubber tires do not protect from lightning. The steel frame of your car is what provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.

"It has nothing at all to do with the rubber tires. It is the big case of metal that you're sitting in when you're inside your car," said NBC2 Meteorologist Rob Duns.

"Metal is a decent conductor of electricity, so if the lightning bolt hits the actual car, it's going to follow the skeleton – the metal exterior of the car – and go into the ground."

Duns said this same logic also applies to airplanes.

"When the lightning bolt hits the actual plane, this metal mesh helps to redirect the electricity and send it away from the plane," he said. "So you can literally be inside an airplane flying through the sky 30,000 feet in the air, be struck by lightning, and be totally safe and totally unharmed if you're inside the plane."

3. True or False: If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance.

True. If you hear thunder, see lightning, or if you're out in a public place, and you hear the siren noise that means lightning is nearby. You should run to the nearest building or get to your car and get inside immediately.

"Anytime you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of a lightning bolt. That is the time to start seeking shelter inside," Duns said.

4. True or False: Since I am inside my house and out of the storm, I am completely safe from lightning.

False. While inside waiting out a storm, avoid using electrical appliances and do not take showers or baths. Also stay away from metal doors and window frames.

5. True or False: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.

False. Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.

"There is no leftover electricity running through their body. It's a one-and-done thing, so they need medical attention, and they need it right away."

For more information on lightning safety, visit the lightning safety section of the National Weather Service website.

Posted 4:05 PM

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