Surviving a Lightning Strike

According to various reports, there have been a number of cases where people have survived an incident of actually being struck by lightening. In some cases these people have suffered little more than minor burns, whilst in others it has played games with their mental abilities, for either short term or longer periods. Of course, there are an equal number of cases where those who were struck have not been so lucky, which accounts for about 67 deaths on average each year in the US alone. Either way, a trip out when lightning strikes is not to be recommended.

However, in the event that you do get caught outside in the midst of a lightning storm there are a few precautions that can be taken to reduce the chances of being struck or at least limit the potential harm that a strike could cause. To take such precautions is quite a good idea when there is a potential of being hit by between 100 million and 1 billion volts.

One important fact to know is not to wait until you see lightening before you take evasive action as there can be a distance of up to 13 kilometres between one strike and the next and if you are within that distance, it could mean trouble. Ideally, as been said, you should try not to be outside during a lightening storm as there is no absolute way of avoiding being struck, but assuming you are the following advice may be of some help.

In the first omstance it is important to place any metal type of equipment that you are carrying, for example a metal stick, more than six meters away from you as lightning can jump that distance. The same is true of people. If you are with others do not crowd together. Instead ensure that there is a six meter distance between you.

Secondly, it is important to move away from exposed places, particularly those where there are sharp changes in the terrain or that are close to water. Similarly, do not shelter underneath a tall solitary object such as a tree standing on its own, as tress of this nature will attract the lightning.

If the above is not possible, the safest position to assume is to crouch down on the balls of your feet, but without allowing any other part of your body to touch the ground. This will make you less of a target and, if the lightning travels along the ground having stuck it, which is possible, gives you a better chance of not being hit. Should this position be too uncomfortable, then lying across a raised rock or sitting on you backpack are other options. What you need to remember is to keep your feet close together and only allow the balls of your feet touch the ground to reduce your size as a target area. Once you have assumed this position cover your ears and eyes and, if you feel that lightning is going to strike close by hold your breath, as this will stop you from inhaling any of the tremendous heat that it generates. Stay in the position you have assumed until well after the last bolt of lightning has past and make sure the storm has moved away before you carry on with what you were doing.

Lightning can be dangerous, although many have survived it. The above advice is not a guarantee that it will not strike you but at least it will help to minimise the possibility.