Lightning

Lightning Myths


The lightning threat in the U.S. is very real and impacts people in every state. Though lightning strikes peak in summer, people are struck year round. In the United States, an average of 60 people are killed each year by lightning, and hundreds more are severely injured. Often, these injuries and deaths are due to misinformation around the seriousness of thunderstorms and lightning. Below you'll find the truth behind ten common myths about lightning.

Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors.



Myth:

If it is not raining, then there is no danger from lightning.

Fact:

Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

Myth:

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

Fact:

Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. The steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.

Myth:

“Heat lightning” occurs after very hot summer days and poses no threat.

Fact:

“Heat lightning” is a term used to describe lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for the thunder to be heard.

Myth:

Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

Fact:

Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.

Myth:

If it’s not raining or there aren't clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.

Fact:

Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.

Myth:

A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.

Fact:

The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. Call 9-1-1 and begin CPR immediately if the person has stopped breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if available.

Myth:

If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.

Fact:

Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!

Myth

:

If you are in a house, you are 100% safe from lightning.

Fact:

A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, and not touching electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors, and windows.

Myth:

If thunderstorms threaten while you are outside playing a game, it is okay to finish it before seeking shelter.

Fact:

Many lightning casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. Seek proper shelter immediately if you hear thunder.

Myth:

If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground.

Fact:

Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you should keep moving toward a safe shelter.