BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Did you know that there are 5 ways you can get struck by lightning? There is only one way that’s a direct strike otherwise you could get zapped through ground currents, a side flash, convection or by a streamer.
Either way, being struck by lightning can potentially kill or injure someone, resulting in cardiac arrest or damage to the neurological system, and cause burns on the skin. About 10 percent of people struck by lightning are killed.
The overall risk of being struck by lightning is very low, with odds of one in 15,300 of being hit in your lifetime, according to the National Weather Service.
You can keep that risk low by remaining vigilant and taking proper safety precautions when lightning is a risk in your area.
The WBRC First Alert Weather App is great for when you are in a loud environment and can’t hear thunder because it you’ll get an alert notification sent to your phone.
A ground current, the electricity that flows through the ground away from the point where lightning strikes, puts anyone nearby the strike at risk of shock. Ground currents affect a much larger area than other types of strikes, and they cause around half of all lightning injuries and deaths.
Side flashes occur when lightning strikes an object, like a tree or pole, and part of the current jumps out to hit a person standing within a few feet of the object.
According to the National Weather Service, side flashes usually happen when people take shelter from a storm underneath a tree for example. Lightning likes to strike the tallest object which in most cases is a tree.
If by chance you were out playing golf during a storm then you might be the tallest object. If you don’t seek shelter, you’d have to at least crouch down and balance yourself on the ball of your feet. Sounds tricky to do? It is, so be safe instead and when the thunder roars you go indoors.
Conduction is when lightning travels through metal surfaces like wires, plumbing, water faucets, windows and doors. It causes the most harm to people who are inside, like in their garage.
Lightning occurs when a negatively charged stepped leader, an invisible electrical channel, zigzags to the ground and connects with a positively charged channel moving upward through a tall object, known as a streamer. The current and multiple return strokes flowing between the two produces lightning flashes. People caught in streamers can be at risk for injury and death.
Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun and can strike up to 10 miles away from a storm. The thunder roars, go indoors and don’t go back outside until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.