Don't run in thunderstorms

but if you're taken unawares...

1 to 20 of 38 messages
04/07/2007 at 09:54

just found this succinct bit of advice:

If caught outside in a thunderstorm, find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles. If your skin tingles and hair stands on end, lightning is about to strike. Crouch down, balancing on the balls of your feet, placing hands on knees with head between them. This makes you into the smallest target possible, and minimises contact with the ground.

Do not put up an umbrella or use a mobile phone - the metal directs the current into the body. The British Medical Journal last month illustrated the dangers with the case of a 15-year-old struck while using her mobile - she suffered a cardiac arrest, burst eardrum and a year on she has to use a wheelchair.

04/07/2007 at 09:55
So in other words - put your head between your knees and kiss your ar$e goodbye?
Kryten    pirate
04/07/2007 at 10:01
or stand next to someone taller than you.
04/07/2007 at 10:14
[sidles up to Kryten, li'l sou'wester at a confident angle]
04/07/2007 at 10:15
actually - no.

If one person gets hit, then if someone else is very close they could lose their shoes and socks too!

(Slugsta - that's exactly what I thought! LOL)
cougie    pirate
04/07/2007 at 10:34
Blimey - that sounds uncomfortable. I doubt I could do the curled up thing for more than a minute without cramping up.

04/07/2007 at 10:39

I heard somebody on the radio say that actually lightening goes from the ground up, not the other way round. That can't be right, can it?
04/07/2007 at 10:50
Well an electric current is generally accepted to be the result of charged particles moving along a wire or through a gas or whatever. When this theory was first introduced the scientists decided that the current flow between two points was from positive to negative. Later they discovered that the particles which carried the current were electrons and that they carried a negative charge so the electrons moved from negative to positive. ie the opposite way to the little arrows in their diagrams.

All clear??

04/07/2007 at 10:55
I've also read about some out in the rain got hit by lightning but because the rain was so heavy and they were so wet the lighning passed around their body with the water acting as a Fariday Cage.
So only run when it's raining really heavily :-)
I'm not sure that I'd like to test this though!

04/07/2007 at 10:56
That's correct, waaps. You get "positive streamers" forming up from the ground that meet the lightning coming down.
04/07/2007 at 11:56
I've been out in two thunderstorms over the last couple of weeks and not been struck. Is this a record?
04/07/2007 at 12:04
I love Terry Pratchett's advice - Don't play golf in copper trousers whilst shouting 'All gods are bastards'.
04/07/2007 at 12:52
LOL Phil! I like that one.
04/07/2007 at 14:10
how close was this?

7 or 8 years ago I was fishing on top of a breakwater in kent, when a big thunderstorm started. picked up my carbon fibre (electrical conductor for non scientific peeps) rod, and wondered " why is the rod "thrumming" in my hands, and why is the varnish on the rod popping and bubbling?"

Sudden realisation, and vision of the grim reaper..............dropped rod and legged it off the breakwater - just turning in time to see a big forked lightening strike into the sea maybe 100 yds from where I had been standing!

It still gives me the shivers when I think back to it!

cheers nick
04/07/2007 at 14:55
I've never understood this.

Why is it that you should avoid trees? When the lightning hits the tree, what happens then? Is is because the current then passes into the ground where you're standing? Is this worse than getting hit directly?

My problem is that "a low spot away from trees.." means that basically you need to get out in the open. Which doesn't sound that clever to me and is not what I would do, unless someone gives me a really good reason.

04/07/2007 at 15:15
It's possible for the lightning to jump from the tree to you, which wouldn't be a good thing.
04/07/2007 at 15:26
Do you know why though Kittenkat?! :)
04/07/2007 at 15:29
A tree is much more likely to get struck by lightning. When it does, the current does not just disappear. It radiates out around the tree, causing very significant voltage differences across the ground. These can be high enough to electrocute you.

Jj's advice should add that you need to crouch with you feet as close together as possible so as to minimise ground potential differences.

Additionally, under a tree lightning can emerge from the trunk and get you.

Finally, here's a graphic illustration of why under a tree is not a smart place to be.
04/07/2007 at 15:36
You're safe in a car because it acts as a Faraday cage, diverting the current around you and down to earth.
04/07/2007 at 15:51
What about a bike - I got caught in a lightning storm up on the Derbyshire hills last year - I was all for hiding in a disused barn but everyone else said just speed up and ride out of it.
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