Storm chasers and rain lovers, please take heed of the National Weather Service’s (NWS) warning: “WHEN THUNDER ROARS, GO INDOORS!” According to the NWS, there isn’t a safe outdoor space when a thunderstorm is underway. Delaying action can lead to lightning strike injuries and fatalities, so take cover and get indoors or into a safe vehicle immediately. And since late summer is a popular time for lightning strikes, now’s the time to brush up on your safety skills. Need more convincing? Here are 5 real, yet unbelievable, encounters with lightning.
Florida weatherman is struck by lightning in his home
Did you know Florida has more lightning strikes (and fatalities) than any other U.S. state? You can blame its climate (hot and humid) and topography (the state is nestled between 2 warm bodies of water— the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico), which deliver an impressive year-round supply of warm, moist air. A Florida weatherman thought he was safely indoors waiting out a rainstorm when he noticed an open window on his screened porch. As he touched the metal window frame to close the window, he was thrown back 18 feet. Lightning had traveled through the roof of his house and across the metal window frame. He was lucky enough to survive the strike with only a small burn on his shoulder.
Lightning strikes the same man 10 different times
One unlucky South Carolina man claims he had the improbable experience of surviving 10 different lightning strikes over the course of his life (he may have also singlehandedly disproven the old adage: lightning never strikes twice). This heavy equipment operator likened the experience to being microwaved from the inside out.
Headphones save a teen from serious injury
Doctors believe a British teen that was taking cover under a tree during a thunderstorm, was struck by lightning but spared major injury due to the headphones she was wearing around her neck (which were not in her ears at the time). According to them, the headphone cord actually diverted the electricity away from her body and vital organs, which helped save her life.
11-year-old survives bolt from the blue
An 11-year-old Pittsburgh girl was out for a walk with a friend on a sunny day when she was struck down by lightning from a storm happening several miles away. Luckily, she survived the surprise strike with only a few minor burns.
Scuba diver killed by lightning strike while underwater
While on a dive about 40 miles north of Miami, a man was tragically electrocuted and killed when a lightning bolt struck his tank. Though oceans are not often associated with lightning strikes, water is nevertheless a good conductor of electricity and can carry a current for substantial distances, so precautions are necessary. Do your best to avoid water entirely during thunder or rainstorms.
Weather can be unpredictable. In the event you end up caught in a thunderstorm, here are 6 Things You Must Know About Thunderstorm Survival.