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Do You Know What to do When Lightning Strikes?

Lightning facts and safety tips as National Lightning Safety Awareness week kicks off...
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Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 18:00:26-04

BALTIMORE — Thunderstorms, they can range from small pop-up ones that only rain in your backyard to a supercell that spans a few kilometers creating severe weather in its wake. The one thing all of these storms have in common... lightning.

Lightning is a danger all on its own which is why the National Weather Service has designated June 19th to the 25th National Lightning Safety Awareness week. While there have already been a few thunderstorms already this spring and early summer, lightning danger is still ever present for us here in Maryland.

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Maryland ranks in the top 10 states for lightning caused deaths since 1959. Other states that are included in the top 10 are Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Some may be asking now, how can I stay safe during a thunderstorm?

Well your best line of protection is to always know the weather. you can do that by always checking the forecast ahead of time right here with Maryland's Most Accurate Forecast on WMAR 2 News. Planning out your trip to avoid thunderstorms is the best way to avoid being struck by lightning. Sometimes plans don't always work out which could lead to you and your group being stuck outside when a thunderstorm rolls through. So, here are some facts and safety tips on lightning.

Fact 1: Lightning can strike miles away from its parent storm. This is where the term 'bolt from the blue' comes from.

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Tip: Be sure to head indoors when you have a thunderstorm overhead. Just remember the saying 'when thunder roars, go indoors.'

Fact 2: Electrical currents can easily travel through water and metal due to their conductive properties. If you are in the water or on a bridge you could still have the electrical current go through your body due to those properties.

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Tip: Be sure to stay clear from water, wet items, and metal objects.

Fact 3: Lightning wants to make the quickest and shortest connection to a grounding source. This means that the tallest objects will get struck first. Unfortunately, there are times you will be the tallest thing around during a thunderstorm.

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Tip: Avoid standing in open fields, on top of hills, ridges, trees, or other tall objects. If you cannot get indoors but are out in an open field, be sure to try and make yourself as small as possible and limiting your contact with the ground. This can be done by crouching and standing on the balls of your feet.

Fact: Lightning can reach temperatures as hot as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit! This is why so many trees and structures catch fire.

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Tip: We'll circle back to 'when thunder roars, go indoors' since there is not much you can do to protect against that kind of dangerous heat.

While lightning can be dangerous and frightening at times you can still be safe during these times and avoid being struck by following the tips and always planning ahead.