Staying safe in a lightning storm

August 6, 2012 2:54:59 PM PDT
In just a matter of days lightning strikes have claimed one man's life and left 17 people injured across our area. These storms are powerful and they can move quickly.

"A lightning strike might occur over one or two microseconds, which is a very short time, but even over that time, the amount of energy which is unleashed is tremendous," Paul Angiolilo Ph.D. of St. Joseph's University said.

Angiolillo, Associate Professor and Chair of Saint Joseph's University Physics Department, explains lightning can occur at any time of year, though we often associate it with summer storms.

Despite the recent injuries and fatality, he says the chances of it striking a person are slim.

"I think your chance of actually getting struck by lightning is still around one in a million," Angiolillo said.

Still he adds, it's important to respect the bolt's power.

Experts have a number of tips should you find yourself in a storm.

  • Avoid high places, open fields, and bodies of water.
  • Steer clear of trees or canopies,
  • Find shelter in a substantial building or vehicle.

    "If you suspect there's a possibility a strong storm could be coming and you're outside, you should get inside immediately," Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts said.

    Pitts says the temperature of lightning is five times the surface of the sun.

    He explains the city's skyscrapers are often safe due in large part to Ben Franklin's work with electricity, attracting lightning to a particular point.

    "Any tall manmade object that you don't want to have damaged by lightning, has a lightning rod on it, and that is to redirect lightning through the shortest path to ground," Pitts said.

    More safety tips: http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls/lst.html


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