How to Survive a Lightning Strike

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

You can’t watch the news lately without seeing the damage and destruction Mother Nature is inflicting on us. Whether it’s hurricanes, tornados or wildfires — we are being inundated with devastating natural disasters.

Even though timing and trajectories can be predicted for many of these disastrous events (or you may live in an area that won’t be affected), there is one deadly force that does not discriminate its victims.

LIGHTNING.

Right now, there are approximately 2,000 thunderstorms happening somewhere on the planet, which produce more than 8 MILLION lightning strikes per day.

Lightning striking a field

Surprisingly, only one in four people who actually get hit by lighting dies. And fortunately, there are also several survival techniques that will minimize your chances of becoming a target of one of these random shots fired from above.

Those who have been killed by lightning were usually taking cover under a tree or standing next to a telephone pole (or hanging out with that guy in Benjamin Button).

Others were talking on their cellphones while leaning against a metal signpost, walking on top of a metal sidewalk grate or touching a metal fence — ALL things that attract lightning.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Basically, there are two groups of folks who are victims of lightning strikes:

  1. Those completely oblivious to their surroundings, who ignore the dangers of lightning and make no attempt to seek shelter.
  2. Those who are just plain unlucky.

The National Weather Service has a 30/30 rule, which urges you to count the “flash-to-bang” time. When you see a flash of lightning, begin counting. If you cannot count to 30 seconds before you hear the thunderclap, you need to proceed to shelter immediately.

After hearing the last clap of thunder, you must stay inside for 30 minutes before it is safe to resume any outdoor activities.

LIGHTNING SAFETY CHECKLIST

  • Seek shelter in a permanent structure and move to the interior
  • If you’re already indoors, stay away from windows. Do not use electrical appliances or computers or position yourself near plumbing or pipes
  • If you’re outdoors and no permanent structures are present, get inside a vehicle, but keep your hands and other body parts from touching any metal parts inside the car. The tires of the car somewhat insulate the vehicle, but the vehicle’s metal frame is still a conduit
  • Stay away from trees or tall objects
  • Avoid touching fences, signposts or any metal objects
  • Power down cellphones or portable electronic devices
  • If you’re caught outside, sit down and tuck your head between your legs (and pray, if that’s your thing)
  • It’s important to insulate yourself. To avoid electricity transferring through the ground, sit on a coat, blanket or anything that limits your body’s direct contact with the ground
  • If you are in open field, lie flat on the ground to avoid being the highest point.

Lightning strikes are one of the most unpredictable natural phenomena, but if you remember this advice, you can avoid becoming a victim.

Be a survivor… not a statistic,

Cade Courtley

Cade Courtley

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