Myths and facts about lightning

Thursday, June 25, 2015

They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, but the late Ray Search of McCook, who was struck three times over his lifetime, knew that wasn't true.

It's especially not true of a tall, pointy, isolated object -- the Empire State Building is struck nearly 100 times a year.

You're also not safer if you crouch down outside during a thunderstorm -- if you lay flat on the ground, you're actually more vulnerable to be affected by potentially deadly ground current from a nearby strike.

Neither do the rubber tires of your vehicle protect you from lightning -- it's the metal shell of the vehicle that helps provide protection.

Nebraska had only one death attributed to lightning during 2005-14, but adjacent Colorado, where many of us enjoy vacationing in the Rocky Mountains, saw 17 killed by lightning over the same period, behind Florida with 47 and Texas with 20.

The National Weather Service offers some important tips during this week, national Lightning Safety Awareness Week:

* NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!!

* If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.

* When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.

* Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.

Indoor Lightning Safety

* Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.

* Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.

* Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.

* Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

* If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:

* Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks

* Never lie flat on the ground

* Never shelter under an isolated tree

* Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter

* Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water

* Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

Check out the NWS Lightning Safety page at http://1.usa.gov/1J7J40q

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