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Thunderstorms arise when the ground is warm; they grow by convection, produce lightning and thunder, and may appear in a squall line.

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How to Survive a Lightning Strike

How to Survive a Lightning Strike


Credit: C. Clark
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cloud-to-ground_lightning2_-_NOAA.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The best thing to do is to stay away from lightning. Unfortunately, people struck by lightning die or have permanent damage. However, if you’re caught out in a lightning storm, what should you do?

What can you do to avoid a lightning strike?

  • If you see lightning start counting. If you can’t count to 30 before you hear thunder, or if your hair stands on end, seek shelter.
  • Best thing to do is to get inside a well constructed building, not just a shed or flimsy shelter.
  • Get in a vehicle and roll up the windows.
  • Since lightning strikes the tallest object, in a forest get in a low area under a dense stand of small trees.
  • Credit: Jarkko Laine
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jarkko/8287041276/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Tree struck by lightning [Figure2]


  • If you’re in the open, go to the lowest area.
  • If you’re on water, get to land.

Can You Apply It?

With the links below, learn more about lightning strikes. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Why is lightning more likely to strike things that are taller than other things around them?
  2. Why does lightning strike metal?
  3. Why is getting in your car with the windows up a good idea (as long as your car has a hard top)?
  4. If your hair is standing on end, and you can’t go inside a building or car, what should you do?
  5. If you are in an open field some distance from a metal electrical tower, how safe do you think you would be?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: C. Clark; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cloud-to-ground_lightning2_-_NOAA.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Jarkko Laine; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jarkko/8287041276/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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