MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Lightning, in the United States i strikes the ground around 25 million times a year! While it can be a beauty to behold from a distance, in this episode of the breakdown we are going to dive in deeper about how lightning forms, a few safety tips to keep in mind and a new world record that was set just a few year ago.
A singular lightning strike is three times hotter than the surface of the sun, that means it can reach temperatures of 50,000 degrees or hotter. Lightning is most prevalent during the summer months, but as we know int he Mid-South, it can happen just about any time of the year.
Lightning occurs when positive and negative charges build in a developing thunderstorm. The negative charges will flow to the bottom of the storm, while positive charges float to the top. As step-leaders from the cloud flow to Earth, it is searching for a charge from Earth to the cloud to connect to. Once the connection is made, a discharge occurs causing the flash, boom and heat from the bold to occur.
In fact, the World Meteorological Organization has verified that a singular lightning bold skirted some 440 miles across the Brazilian Sky in South America. The longest horizontal lightning bolt on record. The distance is equivalent from Washington D.C. to Boston here in the United States. This event took place October 31st in 2018.
Each year, there are about 300 people struck by lighting a year, with on average 30 of them dying from the strike. That means hundreds of people will survive a lightning strike but may suffer life-long disabilities from the bolt.
While lightning fatalities can happen anywhere in the United States, Florida has the highest rates of lightning deaths than any of the other 49 states.
June, July and August are when most of the lightning fatalities occur, many contribute that to the percentage of water and sport activities along with outdoor recreation during the summer months.
A lot of lightning fatalities could have been prevented. According to many lightning strike survivors, they say they were caught outside and not able to find a safe place, while others said they waited too long before trying to seek a safe place. Others explained they went back outside a bit sooner than recommend. The National Weather Service collects information on weather-related deaths to learn how to better prevent these tragedies.
When thunderstorms threaten, get inside a building with plumbing and electricity, or a hard-topped metal vehicle. Stay inside for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble of thunder.
Finally, some victims were struck inside homes or buildings while they were using electrical equipment or corded phones. Others were in contact with plumbing, outside doors, or window frames. It is best to avoid contact with these electrical conductors when a thunderstorm is nearby.
If you are unable get to a safe building or vehicle: Here are some tips….
Avoid open areas. Don’t be the tallest object in the area. Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility poles, because lightning tends to strike the taller objects in an area.
Stay away from metal conductors such as wires or fences. Although metal does not attract lightning, if metal is struck electrical currents could travel long distances through the metal.
If you are with a group of people, spread out. This may increases the chance that someone might get struck, but it decreases the likely hood of multiple casualties, and increases the chances that someone could assist if a person is struck.
If someone does get struck by lightning cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death. It is important to note that lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and may need first aid immediately. Call 9-1-1 and give first aid.
Begin CPR if you are trained. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available or near. These units could be a lifesavers.
Don’t be a victim. If possible, move the victim to a safer place. Remember, Lightning can strike the same place twice.