The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that lightning strikes the ground 25 million times per year in the United States. In 2014, those strikes resulted in 26 lightning-related fatality reports. Know basic lightning safety to help reduce your risk of being struck.
According to NOAA, hundreds of people are struck by lightning each year. The good news: 90% of victims survive. The bad news: 70% suffer serious long-term effects, including:
- Vision or hearing loss
- Nervous system damage
- Muscle, ligament and bone damage
- Neurological defects
You don't have to be hit directly to suffer injuries. You also can be struck by:
- A side flash: Lightning jumps from its primary target to another victim.
- A ground current: Lightning strikes an object and then travels across the ground, making contact with a victim.
- Conduction: A victim is touching a metal surface that is struck by lightning.
Lightning can travel 10 to 15 miles away from a storm, according to NOAA. If you hear thunder, you're within this range and should seek shelter immediately.
If lightning is common in your area, familiarize yourself with ways to reduce risk before and during a lightning storm. For example:
- Go indoors at the first sign of a storm.
- Invest in home lightning protection.
- Avoid touching electronics or anything with a cord, such as your phone.
- Stay away from water sources, including pipes, sinks and showers.
- Do not stand or lean on concrete structures.
- Seek shelter in a hard-top vehicle if you're stuck outside.
- If you're outside and shelter isn't available, crouch down at least 100 feet from tall objects, tuck your head in and cover your ears.