Experts Share Ways to Safely Nagivate a Lightning Storm

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A fatal Gary lightning strike is a new item on a list for the National Weather Service, showing lightning fatalities in the United States.  Weather experts say injuries from lightning strikes are rare, yet when they occur they are very serious or fatal. Two people in Gary died yesterday as a result of lightning strikes, one in a home that caught fire, another on a billboard when lightning struck.

Associate Professor of Meteorology Dr. Bart Wolf says lightning is a complicated scientific occurrence, and he says it’s very unpredictable.

Dr. Wolf says, “but what we do know is it a very large static electric charge release that takes place between typically a thunderstorm and the ground.” Wolf says between 40 and 50 people each year in the United States are struck and killed by lightning.

Wolf says, “it’s a terrible risk because for every person killed, there is at least 10 more permanent impact by lightning, neurological issues, burns issues, ocular or hearing issues.”

Director of Risk and Safety for Prompt Ambulance Service Jerry Miller says if you are caught outside during a storm seek shelter. Miller says, “we highly suggest getting into automobiles, and when you’re in the automobile it protects you because the automobile is insulated by the tires.” Wolf says, “don’t go under a tree, don’t hold onto a fence don’t go under water, those kinds of things.”

Miller also recommends skipping baths and showers until after the storm.  He says, “the metal pipes and water are both conductive of electricity so you want to be aware of that.”

Wolf says, “typically lightning strikes are on the order of 30,000 degrees celcius, several times hotter than the surface of the sun.”  Both experts says the safest place to be during a storm is inside and if that’s not an option you’re automobile is the next best thing.


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