Lightning is an incredibly powerful force of nature. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, our earth experiences 100 lightning flashes per second, the United States alone has over 40 million lightning strikes annually. And USA Today reports that the average number of deaths from lightning strikes hovers around 50 per year.
Did You Know?
Did you know 2/3 of all lightning casualties occur between 12-6pm? And that a whopping 80% of all lightning strikes hit men? Did you know that the Empire State Building gets hit by lightning nearly 25 times per year? This latter fact debunks the myth that lightening never strikes the same place twice. (These factoids are according to the Lightening Protection Institute.)
In honor of Lightning Awareness Week from June 21 - 27, 2015, test your knowledge and find out which myths are real and which aren’t:
- Your car’s rubber tires will ground and protect you…. (False – it’s the metal around the tires that act as a conduit). It’s better to be in a vehicle that is fully-enclosed with metal than stand outdoors in a storm.
- You are protected from lightening if you are under a tree…. (False – lightning traveling along tree roots can enter a structure by jumping onto nearby electrical lines; lightening can also injure a tree from a direct strike, causing its limbs to fall onto you).
- Crouching outside is a safe thing to do…. (False – ground lightning is as dangerous as a direct strike). The best thing to do in any situation is to head for shelter at the first sign of a storm.
- People are poor lightning conductors… (False – the human body is a better conductor than many insulating building materials).
- It’s safe to walk outside if you don’t see lightening …. (False – wait 30 minutes after a storm before resuming outdoor activities). In fact, if you can hear thunder, you’re within striking distance of the storm.
- Lightening doesn’t hit water…. (False – water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity).
- You are safer indoors than outdoors…. (True – however, about 1/3 or 32% of lightning injuries occur indoors). In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2007-2011, lightning fires caused an average of $108 million in non-residential direct damage and $451 million in direct property damage per year; and local U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 lightening-induced fires annually.
To read more about lightening, specifically to homeowners and insurance related issues, please click here.
Rick Albers is a technical risk consultant with Chubb’s Risk Consultant Group.