Warm weather usually means, some heavy lightning storms afterwards. We’ve been having those for several weeks now, but do you actually know what to do, during a lightning storm?
What is thunder and lightning?
Simply put, you get lightning when positive and negative charges collide in clouds. The speed of light is 40.000 kilometers per second, so that’s something we can see almost instantly. The sound of the lightning, called Thunder, however, has a speed of about 300 meters per second. This makes it easy to know how far lightning struck. Just multiply the number of seconds you can count in between lightning and thunder, by 300 meters and you know the exact distance. When you’re counting less than 10, it’s recommended to search for shelter.
What is absolutely not recommended during a lightning storm?
Locations you should absolutely avoid during a lightning storm outdoors, are:
- Open water, like ponds and swimming pools
- Heights, like hills or mountains
- The edge of a forest
- Windows (even when they’re closed)
- Fences (even nonmetal ones), wiring and pipes
- Boats and tents
- High buildings and towers, isolated trees
- Open fields
- Metal constructions
When you’re in an open field, you have the risk of being struck by lightning. If you can’t find shelter, please sit down in a safety position: Bend your knees, arms around them, and put your hands on your ears. Keep your head down.
If possible, go sit in a firm building, with windows and doors closed. Bus stops, carports and such are not safe.
A complete metal car is safe. This is considered a cage of Faraday.
A convertible on the other hand is not safe. Even on a bicycle, you’re not that protected. Don’t use an umbrella during a storm, and the tent on the festival camping is not your best choice either.
Bigger groups have bigger risks of getting struck, so we can’t recommend that either.
Even indoors you can take measurements against lightning.
Pull out all the plugs from electric devices. When lightning strucks, every machine connected to the network, is destroyed.
Keep windows and doors closed, not even to watch the storm. The light can blind you when it’s nearby.
Stay away from running water, so don’t go do the dishes (yay!) or take a shower (no!).
Don’t phone on a fixed line, or stand next to metal pipes or the heater. Even the fireplace and the suntan should take a break from your daily use.
Help, I got struck by lightning!
Only 1 in 3 people die from being struck by lightning. Often there are some temporary symptoms.
You can be unconscious during several minutes, even hours
Even your memories can be affected by lightning. It should only persist a couple of hours
Usually you are temporarily paralyzed at your legs, sometimes the arms. This can take up to 1 day.
A person that is not breathing, is not necessarily dead. Use First Aid and always alert emergencies at 112. Give a clear description on where you are.
Don’t know any First Aid? It can always help to enlist in a course that teaches you First Aid. And who knows, you might have saved a life in the near future!