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How to Avoid Being Struck by Lightning

Thunderstorms are a natural phenomenon whose dangers people often underestimate. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are injured as a result of being struck by lightning.

Bright Side has put together some expert recommendations about what you should do during a thunderstorm in order to avoid getting hurt.

In order to understand how far away a thunderstorm is from you, observe how much time passes between the flashes of lightning and the sound of thunder. If it's around 5 seconds, then you have time to move to a safe place.

If there's no gap at all between the flash and the sound, then the storm is right above you. You're in real danger - you need to take cover as fast as possible!

Even if a thunderstorm occurs and you're inside a building, lightning strikes remain a threat, especially when it comes to the various devices in your home. It's best to turn off your computer and TV in this case.

  • Close windows and doors.

  • Don't take a bath or shower during a thunderstorm, especially if you're out in the countryside where homes and lines of communication are not as well protected against lightning.

  • Don't light a stove or fireplace - the smoke coming out of a chimney has high conductivity and increases the likelihood that lightning will strike your home.

The main rule here is to keep as far away as possible from everything that rises up from the ground and also anything connected to bodies of water or made from metal:

  • Reservoirs are very dangerous during thunderstorms. If you find yourself close to or in the water, move a distance of no less than 30 meters away.
  • Stay away from chain-link fences and large metallic objects.
  • Don't move. Instead, take cover under some low bushes if possible. Don't under any circumstances shelter under a tree. In fact, stay at least 20 meters away from them.
  • If you're in a field and there aren't any bushes, squat down. You can also take cover in a trench or a ditch.
  • It's still not proven that cell phones attract lightning, but it's best to be cautious and turn them off.
  • Don't stand near a bonfire - the pillar of hot air conducts electricity very effectively.

If you're in a car, then you're lucky as they function as a great refuge from a thunderstorm.

  • Find a place/terrain that isn't too open, and park there.
  • Close the windows and doors, and stay in the car. If lightning strikes your automobile, the charge will pass down to the ground through the metallic body of the vehicle.
  • Don't touch the metallic parts of the car.

If you're riding a bike, stop and take cover inside a building or under the nearest bush.

This is a very rare phenomenon, but it's still a good idea to know how to act if you find yourself confronted with ball lightning.

  • Don't run: the flow of air that you create behind yourself can attract the lightning. Move smoothly, or try not to move at all.
  • Close windows if you're at home. Ball lightning has been known to fly into homes through them.
Illustrator: Leonid Khan for Bright Side
Based on materials from redcross, lightningsafety, mchs