During a thunderstorm, it's best to be home. But in case you are not, your safety and wellbeing may depend on knowing the difference between these lightning myths and the facts.
Myth #1 – Lightning never strikes twice in the same place
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object.
Myth #2 – Lightning only strikes the tallest objects.
Fact: Lightning is indiscriminate and it can find you anywhere. Lightning may hit the ground instead of a tree, cars instead of nearby telephone poles, and parking lots instead of buildings.
Myth #3 – If you're stuck in a thunderstorm, being under a tree is better than no shelter at all.
Fact: Sheltering under a tree is just about the worst thing you can do. If lightning does hit the tree, there’s the chance that a "ground charge” will spread out from the tree in all directions.
Myth #4 – If you don't see rain or clouds, you're safe.
Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or even the thunderstorm cloud. Though infrequent, "bolts from the blue” have been known to strike areas as distant as 10 miles from their thunderstorm origins, where the skies appear clear.
Myth #5 – A car's rubber tires will protect you from lightning
Fact: True, being in a car will likely protect you. But most vehicles are actually safe because the metal roof and sides divert lightning around you—the rubber tires have little to do with keeping you safe. Convertibles, motorcycles, bikes , open
shelledoutdoor recreation vehicles and cars with plastic or fiberglass shells offer no lightning protection at all.
Myth #6 – If you're outside in a storm, lie flat on the ground.
Fact: Lying flat on the ground makes you more vulnerable to electrocution, not less. Lightning generates potentially deadly electrical currents along the ground in all directions—by lying down, you're providing more potential points on your body to hit.
Myth #7 – If you touch a lightning victim, you'll be electrocuted.
Fact: The human body doesn’t store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid.
Myth #8 – Wearing metal on your body attracts lightning.
Fact: The presence of metal makes very little difference in determining where lightning will strike. Height, pointy shape and isolation are the dominant factors in whether lightning will strike an object (including you).
Myth #9 – A house will always keep you safe from lightning.
Fact: While a house is the safest place you can be during a storm, just going inside isn’t enough. You must avoid any conducting path leading outside, such as electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, plumbing, metal doors or metal window frames.