An element can be dangerous and cruel, especially as unpredictable and destructive as lightning. And in the fall, the “arrows of Zeus” fall into people no less than in spring or summer. There are many myths and, to varying degrees, sound recommendations on how to avoid the discharge of atmospheric electricity. However, as far as they are true, is it possible to be saved from a lightning strike, and what are the chances of survival if a hit is inevitable?
Thunderstorms are extremely common, therefore it is not surprising that almost weekly reports of lightning striking people, vehicles or various engineering structures are received. For example, last weekend in the capital of Jamaica, two football players were hit by a discharge of atmospheric electricity. Fortunately, everything worked out and no one received serious injuries. Another publicized incident occurred in Novosibirsk, where lightning struck a car directly on the highway. Only the car was damaged, and the driver, passengers and random witnesses escaped with a slight startle.
That’s a miracle, everyone survived, no one even got serious injuries. It turns out – there is nothing particularly terrible in lightning? Wrong. Every year, several hundred people die directly from the impact of atmospheric electricity. What percentage of the total number of people who have become targets for thunderstorms is unknown, but the danger is not only in electric injuries. Lightning can cause fires, explosions, and damage various equipment. As a result of these processes, there are many more victims.
Lightning protection events are carried out in any construction. Each house has a lightning rod, and all metal structures are necessarily grounded. This can significantly reduce lightning damage. Simply put, atmospheric electricity needs to get to the ground as quickly as possible, so if there is any object in the discharge path, it will almost always fall into it. But where all the energy accumulated in it will disappear depends on the properties of the unsuccessful object.
Hence the first conclusion – if you do not want to become a lightning rod, do not be the highest or the most conductive in a radius of a couple of tens of meters.
However, a remark immediately begs: on the evidence provided above, not one of the targets was even close to the highest of those nearby. So the advice is wrong? Yes and no. In addition to the height and internal resistance to electric current, dozens (if not hundreds) of factors that cannot be predicted affect the path of a lightning discharge. Therefore, the only 100% guarantee not to catch lightning is to not leave the house at all. All other recommendations only reduce the likelihood, but it will never drop to zero.
By the way, any transport (car, train, bus) with a metal body is an excellent shelter from lightning. The charge simply flows down the body and almost never damages what is inside. According to this principle, airplanes (unlike some pilots) are not afraid of lightning and survive two hits a year without consequences. Therefore, if you find yourself in a thunderstorm far from buildings or natural shelters, but there is a car nearby, you can always hide in it. But under the tree it is fraught to hide, because if lightning strikes, chips can be knocked out of the trunk. And not the fact that the discharge will not jump to a person.
In any case, even a single tree is not the worst option. The most dangerous thing during a thunderstorm is walking in an open field or sailing in a non-metallic boat on water. Both of these situations are simply hopeless and require immediate evacuation. Moreover, in any way trying to reduce its height makes sense only in the boat – go to the bottom, for example. But moving crawling, squatting or bending down does not at all reduce the chances of getting lightning. Lying on the ground is almost pointless because lightning strikes even nearby become dangerous. A charge can pass over the surface and reach a person: in this case, the path of electric current in the body will be greater than if the victim was standing on his feet. And the larger the current path, the more serious the damage to internal organs can be.
The conclusions are disappointing: if for some reason lightning is sent to a person, it will not work to avoid getting it. As practice shows, even the presence of higher objects nearby will not help. It remains only to increase their chances of survival (do not leave the room, do not make a mistake). The smaller the path the electricity travels in the body, the better – hold an umbrella in your hand, so the charge will at least not enter your head. You can hide in the forest (!) Under the tree, but be sure to cover your head. It is safe to travel in a thunderstorm in a car, train, plane and ship, the main thing is not to protrude from the windows and windows.