Lucky Strike: Mother and Toddler Survive Lightning Bolt
A mother and son survive a lightning strike to their Chevy Impala. How often does this happen? How can you survive a lightning strike?
Michelle St. Val and her son Mikyal and two passengers were driving to the airport on I-595 near Fort Lauderdale on Friday when their Chevy Impala was surrounded by a flash of light. "My car lit up like Christmas," Michelle tells the Sun-Sentinel. "It was a huge boom, and then lightning completely took over the car," she continues. Glass shattered everywhere and her car drifted across three lanes of highway.
When the Chevy came to stop, everyone was terrified but unhurt. According to the Sun-Sentinel, the highway patrol concluded that the lightning bolt hit the upper-left corner of the rear window - near Mikyal's head - and and exited on the other side blowing a hole in the back tire.
How often does this happen?
Already this month across the United States, eight people have died from lightning strikes. On average, these lightning storms kill around 70 people every year and injure more than 500. So far this year, 24 people have died from different types of lightning. June, July and August are the most active and deadly months. And Florida is the lightning capital of the United States.
Your chances are around one in 700,000 in any given year of being struck by a lightning bolt. But don't be lulled into complacency by that statistic. There are some 25 million cloud-to-ground strikes every year in the US. Each is charged with around 300 million volts and a current of up to 200,000 amps. That's enough electricity to power a 100-watt bulb for around two months.
Roughly 10 percent of lightning victims actually die while 90 percent suffer injuries that can range from mild shocks to permanent problems including chronic pain, hypersensitivity, memory lapses and impaired thinking and concentration skills, according to Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, the world's leading authority on lightning injuries and a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
TSC recommends this excellent article featuring lightning-strike survivors written by JoNel Allecia at MSNBC.com.
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Top 10 Lightning Myths
1. MYTH: Lightning Never Strikes The Same Place Twice.
Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if its a
tall pointy isolated object. The EmpireState Building used to be used
as a lightning laboratory, since it is hit nearly 25 times a year.
Places prone to lightning are places to avoid when thunderstorms are
2. MYTH: If Its Not Raining, Or If Clouds Arent Overhead, Im Safe From Lightning.
TRUTH: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or even thunderstorm cloud. Bolts From The Blue, though infrequent, can strike 10-15 Miles from the thunderstorm. Anvil lightning can strike the ground over 50 Miles from the thunderstorm, under extreme conditions. Lightning in clouds has traveled over 100 miles from the thunderstorm.
3. MYTH: Rubber Tires Protect You From Lightning In A Car By Insulating You From The Ground.
TRUTH: Lightning laughs at two inches of rubber! Most cars are reasonably safe from lightning. But its the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, not the rubber tires. Thus convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open helled outdoor recreational vehicles, and cars with plastic or fiberglass shells offer no lightning protection. Likewise, farm and construction vehicles with open cockpits offer no lightning protection. But closed cockpits ith metal roof and sides are safer than going outside. And dont even ask about sneakers!
4. MYTH: A Lightning Victim Is Electrified. If You Touch Them, Youll Be Electrocuted.
TRUTH: The human body doesnt store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning myths. Imagine someone dying needlessly, for want of simple CPR or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, when their chances of survival was ~90%!
5. MYTH: If Outside In A Thunderstorm, Go Under A Tree To Stay Dry.
TRUTH: Being underneath trees is the second leading activity for lightning casualties enough said?!
6. MYTH: Im In A House, Im Safe From Lightning.
TRUTH: While a house is a good place for lightning safety, just going inside isnt enough. You must avoid any conducting path leading outside, such as corded telephones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, plumbing (including plastic pipes with water in them), metal doors or window frames, etc. Dont stand near a window to watch the lightning. An inside room is generally best.
7. MYTH: When Playing Sports And Thunderstorms Threaten, Its Okay To Finish The Game Before Seeking Shelter.
Sports is the activity with the fastest rising rate of lightning
casualties. No game is worth death or life-long severe injury. All
people associated with sports should have a lightning safety plan and
stick to it strictly. Seek proper shelter immediately when lightning
threatens. Adults are responsible for the safety of children!
8. MYTH: Structures With Metal, Or Metal On The Body (Jewelry, Watches, Glasses, Backpacks, Etc.), Attract Lightning.
Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors
controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal
makes virtually no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are
made of stone, but receive many strikes each year. When lightning
threatens, take proper protective action immediately. Dont waste time
shedding metal off your body, or seeking shelter under inadequate
structures. But while metal doesnt attract lightning, touching or
being near long metal objects (fences, railings, bleachers, vehicles,
etc.) is still unsafe when thunderstorms are nearby. If lightning does
happen to hit it, the metal can conduct the electricity a long distance
(even over 100 yards) and still electrocute you.
9. MYTH: If Trapped Outside And Lightning Is About To Strike, Lie Flat On The Ground.
TRUTH: This advice is decades out of date. Better advice is to use the Lightning Crouch: put your feet together, squat low, tuck your head, and cover your ears. Lightning induces electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly over 100 Feet away. While lying flat on the ground gets you as low as possible, which is good, it increases your chance of being hit by a ground current, which is bad. The best combination of being low and touching the ground as little as possible is the Lightning Crouch. But the Lightning Crouch should be used only as a last resort. Much better would be to plan outdoor activities around the weather to avoid thunderstorm exposure and to have proper shelter available.
10. MYTH: Go near a tall pointy isolated object when thunderstorms threaten, to be within the 45° cone of protection.
TRUTH: The cone of protection is a myth! While tall pointy isolated objects are statistically more likely to be struck
by lightning, its not nearly reliable enough to rely on for safety. Lightning can still strike you near the tall
object. Besides, the lightning electricity will likely spread out along the surface of the ground and can still kill
you over 100 Ft from the protecting object. Also, if you are close to or touching the tall object, you can be
electrocuted via side flash or contact voltage. NO PLACE OUTSIDE IS SAFE NEAR A THUNDERSTORM!
In lightning safety, a myth is not as good as a mile. Distance and proper shelter is your best protection from lightning.