Storms and lightning are exciting meteorological phenomena, but it is necessary to be forewarned, since they have a high mortality and accident rate. In view of this, the most important thing is to be well informed. For this reason, below we share some myths and realities related to this phenomenon.

“If it doesn’t rain on our heads, we are safe from the impact of lightning.”

Many of us believe that cloud-to-ground lightning is vertical. But, according to worldwide research, these lightning strikes can travel horizontally 10, 15, 20km and even some more, resulting in a lightning strike without a previous storm, with clear skies.

“Lightning does not strike twice in the same place.”

Lightning strikes, very often, in the same place. This is because they “seek” high, isolated or sharp-shaped sites. This is why skyscrapers and large buildings, such as the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower, receive about 100 impacts per year.

“Car tires protect us from a lightning strike.”

It is very difficult for lightning to strike a vehicle due to its rounded shapes and without any protrusions. But, in the event that this were to happen, it would be the bodywork that would protect us from this impact. This is because the metal acts as a Faraday Cage and conducts the lightning along the outside of the vehicle until it reaches the ground. The same is true for airplanes.

“Metal structures and objects attract lightning.”

Lightning strikes usually strike in high, isolated or sharp-shaped areas. However, the material or the presence of metal does not determine the point of impact. However, metal conducts electricity. Therefore, it is advisable to stay away from fences, railroad tracks, etc.

“Indoors we are safe from electric shock.”

Even if we are inside our home, every precaution is too little. Therefore, it is very important to avoid certain actions during the storm such as washing dishes, using the landline phone and computer or watching television. This is because pipes and lightning cables are excellent conductors. Therefore, if lightning strikes and you are in contact with any of these devices, the lightning strike can reach you.

“If you are in an open field, and you are caught in a storm, you should lie down on the ground or take shelter under a tree.”

The first and most important thing to do is to look for a safe shelter, avoiding shelter under a tree. Trees are usually tall and pointed, and they stand out from the rest of the vegetation. For this reason, taking shelter under a tree is one of the main reasons for death by lightning strike.

Secondly, lying down increases the likelihood that lightning will strike us, as the current travels through the ground. Therefore, the best course of action, if there is nowhere nearby to shelter during the storm, is to squat down with your feet together and your head tucked between your legs. Cover ears and eyes and wait for the storm to pass.

“We must not touch a person struck by lightning because they become electrified.”

When lightning strikes a person, the electrical discharge does not remain in the person’s body. Moreover, we must immediately attend to a lightning injury while waiting for medical assistance to arrive.