When Lightning Strikes

Chris Nisinger, Meteorologist

It can strike in a moment's notice, with no warning at all, and we see it almost daily in the summer time. It happens so often during the year, that many of us become complacent about it's dangers.

It strikes the Earth about one-hundred times per second, and kills on average one-hundred people per year in the united states alone. Many more are injured and live to tell about it.

Mary Speas' life changed forever in a fraction of a second, when she was struck by lightning in 1996. She lives a pretty normal life now, but still suffers some complications in her everyday activities. "But sometimes I have days when I'm sort of brain-dead. Sometimes i am prone to have a panic attack, ike if I'm caught in too many people in the grocdry store. I don't go out or use any telephones, or appliances until the thunder has completely stopped, and it's OK again," she said.

On this day, no thunderstorms were in the area, but how does a lightning strike survivor react during a thunderstorm. Even though the inside of your home is the safest place during a thunderstorm, you're still in danger of being struck.

When inside, stay away from anything that could conduct electricity, like faucets, sinks, and tubs. Keep away from windows, and doors. Never use a corded phone unless there is an emergency. Don't use electric appliances, and stay away from the T.V.

Experts do say it is okay to talk on a cordless phone, or a cell phone while in a thunderstorm.

Outside of your home, you can use lightning rods. They are not a popular item in South Georgia, but they may just come in handy in the event of a lightning strike. One Albany home that was recently hit by lightning, may have been protected by a lightning rod. Home lightning rods are not cheap, running about five-hundred dollars for a one story home.

Also, surge suppressors are a popular way to protect your electronics, and you can do this for about twenty-five dollars.

What if you're caught outside, and no shelter is available? A vehicle is also relatively safe shelter, but not because of the rubber tires as most often thought, but because the current will tend to flow in the metal skin of the car, and not the occupant.

Make sure to keep the windows rolled up and do not touch metal objects. Many people compare getting struck by lightning to winning the lottery, but remember we all play mother natures lottery every time there's a storm.

Watching lightning should be safe and fun. And if all lightning were eliminated, we would all be deprived of one of the most spectacular visual displays that nature has to offer.