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How can I prevent being struck by lightning?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. We're all familiar with the expression "you can run, but you can't hide," and to a certain extent that can be true with lightning. Fatalists will say that if a bolt of lightning has your name on it, there is nothing you can do. But being hit by lightning is a fate most people, even fatalists, would like to avoid, and there are a few things you can do to at least minimize your chances of being struck.

    For starters, the danger of lightning is much like success in real estate: It's all about location, location, location. In this case, indoors versus outdoors. Lightning storms are a considerable source of danger, especially for people who find themselves outdoors, where it is indeed much harder to hide. If you find yourself trapped outdoors with no form of reliable shelter, do not seek shelter beneath a tree. Instead, crouch down on the ground with your feet as close together as you can (do not lay down on the ground). This process minimizes both the chance of lightning striking you directly and the chance of a nearby strike flowing into you.

    To minimize your risk of being struck by lightning, then, the simplest and easiest solution is to find shelter indoors. (Failing that, an automobile can also serve as effective shelter from lightning.) Now that you're indoors, you're still not ensured completely of being safe from lighting, however. Avoid using corded telephones and getting near any metal plumbing; both the phone lines and metal pipes can serve as conductors in the event that lightning strikes your shelter. (Many newer homes have PVC -- polyvinyl chloride -- pipes, but if you aren't sure of what your pipes are made of, stay away during a lightning storm.)

    The comforting moral in this story is that, according to the National Weather Service, the odds are about 1 in 1 million of a person being struck by lightning. And even if you are unlucky enough to be on the wrong side of those odds, there is only a 10 percent chance you'll be killed [source: NOAA]. Hmm. Perhaps we meant cold comfort.

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