Here are some life-saving tips on what to do and not to do in a thunderstorm!
What to do
It’s pretty dangerous outside during a thunderstorm. Lightning strikes the most on open terrain, like parks and meadows. If you get caught by a thunderstorm while you’re in a meadow, squat down, place your feet together and your hands on your knees. This makes you a less easy target. Don’t lay down, the wet ground could be a very good conductor.
Put on some rubber boots
As said before, it’s dangerous outside during a thunderstorm. But putting on rubber boots is a good idea, since rubber is a very bad conductor. Your boots block the path of the lightning to the ground, so the lightning will search an other way, without even scorching your toes.
Get in a car
Staying in a car is pretty safe. The lightning goes through the metal outside of the car, into the rubber bands. Nothing for you to worry about.
Get in a plane
When you are in a plane and lightning strikes, it could get a little bumpy. But you are pretty safe. Just like cars, planes are made from metal, which conducts the electricity around you. Before a newly built plane can go airborne, it is first tested in a laboratory where they fire fake lightning at the plane. Then they are sure the plane can withstand the lightning. There’s even special lightning protection on the electronics in the cockpit.
Stay at home
This is the safest place. If you really want to be super-safe, stay inside, do not pick up the phone and watch the thunderstorm from your couch. If you live in a very high house or an apartment, there’s probably a lightning conductor on the roof. Look if you can see a copper wire running on the outside walls of the building. If you look up, you might even see that it’s connected to a metal bar on the highest point of the building. That’s the lightning conductor.
What not to do
Stand under a high tree
Lightning always chooses the shortest way to the ground, so trees and high buildings have a greater risk of being hit. This is the same for telephone poles and mountain summits. Don’t ever ever go stand under a tree during a thunderstorm, especially if it’s just one tree. Lightning can destroy even the toughest tree. You could get hit by the lightning itself or by pieces of bark that fly off the tree. This happens when the juices in the tree expand because of the heat. And, of course, the tree could fall on top of you.
Playing golf can be very bad for your health. For example, on an open golf course, you are probably the highest thing – an ideal target for lightning. And metal golf-clubs are good conductors. So don’t golf, except if you live in the American state Arizona. It has a golf club equipped with special lightning detectors. They can discover lightning that’s 48 kilometres away. An alarm will then go off, warning the golf players to go inside.
Fishermen are hit by lightning twice more than golfers, because many fishermen use rods made of carbon fibres, and that stuff is an excellent conductor. Whatever you do, don’t jump into the water. Swimmers are an easy pray for lightning, since water is also a great conductor.
Become a bell-ringer
In the past, people thought they could chase the lightning away by sounding the church bells. This didn’t work at all…. The deadly combination of being in a high church tower and sounding a metal bell, killed many fanatic bell-ringers.
Call a friend
If you’re on the phone and lightning strikes nearby, you can get a huge shock. Lightning can even send a deadly dose of electricity through the phone line. So you better not call someone in a thunderstorm. You had also better stay away from other electric apparatus, like computers and TVs. In the USA alone, hundreds of TVs explode when lightning hits the antenna, entering the house. And around 28 people a year die while calling someone during a thunderstorm.
Published in: Emergency Preparation