About how to prevent being struck by lightning

  1. They say if you're in a thunderstorm and you have no other place to go, you should search a hollow, crouch and hold your feet close together. The hollow thing and the crouching thing are easy to understand, but what's the reason for putting your feet together?
  2. jcsd
  3. pervect

    pervect 8,157
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    If lightning strikes near you, the ground itself will have current flowing through it, so there will be a voltage difference between any two different points on the ground. If you keep your feet close together, you minimize the voltage difference between your feet, which minimizes the current flow thorugh your legs.
  4. selfAdjoint

    selfAdjoint 7,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    And if you can stand to lie down on the wet surface, you will maximize your area in contact with the ground. This should minimize your exposure to lightning, but nothing can absolutely eliminate it.
  5. jcsd

    jcsd 2,222
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The usual advice is don't be the tallest thing around and don't stand near the tallest thing around. One of the safest places to be is actually inside of a car.
  6. Do not stand near other people. 15 feet apart should be the minimum.
  7. And do not play golf.
  8. Period. :smile:

    It's all about Football and Basketball. (which also wouldn't be very smart to be playing outdoors in the middle of a lightning storm.)
  9. Yes, that sounds logical.

    I wondered about it because a few days ago I almost got into such an uncomfortable situation. I was climbing on a mountain top when I heared thunder from far away, and the "top" actually was a big rubble waste dump, no big rock or anything around. So, whatever I would have done I would have been the tallest thing around, except of course for the cast iron summit cross :rolleyes:
    Luckily, the thunderstorm didn't reach us, it only started to rain a bit.
  10. Better than pole vaulting, at least.
  11. I heard one of the best things is a faraday cage. like a resourceful one such as a car. go in one of those.
  12. The lightning will still strike the car, but will likely pass around the occupants to ground via the car's exterior, as long as they refrain from nearing the sheet metal skin.
  13. The storm doesn't have to reach you for the risk of lightning strike to be a real threat. I live in Florida and see a lot of lightning, and even know a few people that have been hit. Many times people are struck from the leading edge of the storm even when it seems miles away.
  14. :eek:
    Good to know

    But the best way to protect yourself is and will ever be: Don't blaspheme :devil:

  15. HallsofIvy

    HallsofIvy 41,267
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    No, the main point about an automobile is that it is sitting on rubber tires which are insulators- lightning can't get from the car to the ground and so wont strike the car.

    By the way, sitting in a SMALL hollow or in a SHALLOW cave, is not a good idea. Lightning, running along the surface of the ground can jump small distances, possibly passing through a person. Also, if you are in contact with the ground, you can be hit. Backpackers often take off their back packs and sit ON them during a thunderstorm.
  16. Backpacks don't seem to be much thicker than shoe soles from the lightning's point of view. :confused:
  17. HallsofIvy,

    I have heard that car tires themselves insulating one substantially from lightning is a fallacy. Lightning, about 100,000,000 volts of it, travels through air, a pretty good insulator, often more than a mile to the ground. How can 6" of tire compare?
  18. I think I would feel safer in a grounded car, rather than sitting on a tire, if I was stuck in a storm. The E field in hollow metal is 0 after all.
  19. Faraday Cage

    No, I'm pretty sure its not the tires that save you, but rather by nature of being in the "faraday cage" shields the interior because of the high potential discharge that affects the exterior.

    Your chances of getting struck increase, but so does the probability that you live.
  20. LURCH

    LURCH 2,507
    Science Advisor

    Yes, the car acts as a Farraday Cage (during a lightning storm the tires are almost always covered with a film of dirty water that makes a great connection to ground.

    Anybody ever see that video of the Blazer getting hit?
  21. Rubber tires actually have a high carbon content, which is an excellent conductor.

    On a side note - a rubber automotive heater hose will carry enough current to short an electric fence. Lol, don't ask... :biggrin:

    moo (moo') adj. Of no practical importance; irrelevant, such as a moo point (i.e. a cow's opinion).
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2006
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