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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thunderstorms are a common occurrence this time of year, which is why we want to help you better protect yourself and your family from lightning strikes by separating myths from the facts with help from the National Weather Service.
Myth 1: If you are trapped outside and lightning is in the area, you should lie flat on the ground.
Fact: This is not true. You should know lying flat increases your chances of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. So if you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you should keep moving toward a safe shelter.
Myth 2: If it is not raining or there are no clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.
Fact: Not true. Lighting often strikes more than 3 miles from the center of a thunderstorm far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. Bolts from blue skies can strike 10-15 miles from a thunderstorm so if you see dark clouds and hear thunder you need to get inside right away.
Myth 3: Standing under a tree during a thunderstorm is not dangerous.
Fact: This is also not true. Standing under a tree during a thunderstorm is actually the second leading cause of lightning deaths.
Myth 4: If standing outside, you should crouch down to reduce your risk of being struck.
Fact: Not true. Crouching doesn’t make you any safer outdoors. You need to run to a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle.
Myth 5: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.
Fact: It’s not the rubber tires that protect you, it’s the metal roof and metal sides that keep you safe. For this reason, if you are on a motorcycle, bicycle, in a golf cart or in a convertible, you are not protected from lightning. If lightning strikes a car, it goes through the metal frame into the ground so you should not be leaning on doors during a thunderstorm, either.
Myth 6: If you are in a house, you are 100% safe from lightning.
Fact: Not exactly. A house IS a safe place to be during a thunderstorm, as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, away from electrical appliances like the TV, plumbing and stay away from metal doors.
Myth 7: You can be electrocuted helping a lightning strike victim.
Fact: Not true. You should know the human body does not store electricity so if you see someone hit by lightning, it is perfectly safe to give them first aid.
Did you know men are more likely to be struck by lightning than women?
According to the Lightning Safety Council, during the last 10 years, lightning has claimed the lives of 205 men and boys compared to 60 women and girls. Also, 80% of fatalities are male, which means men and boys are four times more likely to be killed by lightning than women and girls. The reason? According to the council, men account for 90% of work-related lightning fatalities, specifically farming, ranching, roofing, construction and commercial lawn work. These jobs are typically male-dominated.
Statistics also show 93% of lightning deaths during leisure activities involve men, with fishing topping the list, which is another male-dominated activity. The council says this could be associated with two reasons, first, the sound of the motor while out boating may drown out the sound of a storm or there was a delay in leaving the water when the storm rolled in. Nearly 90% of sports-related activities also involve men, with more strikes occurring while they were playing soccer than golf.
While many assume the risk of being struck by lightning is rare, the Lightning Safety Council says there is a higher chance than you might think. During an average adult lifetime, you have a roughly one in 15,000 chance of being struck.
Something else, while only about 25% of all lightning in the sky is aimed at the ground, on average, it can strike the same spot twice.
Also, while hurricanes and tornadoes garner many weather-related headlines, lighting on average, kills 30 people each year in the United States.