Rain makes thunderstorms more dangerous
Behavior in thunderstorms
Lightning strikes the highest point
However, significantly more people are injured by lightning. So you shouldn't challenge fate: if you can just slowly count to ten between lightning and thunder, you are so close to the thunderstorm that you should get to safety as quickly as possible.
The risk of being struck by lightning can be minimized by following a few basic rules. Lightning is an electrical charge that compensates for a voltage difference between the thundercloud and the earth below: that can be 100 million volts, and when it hits, a current of around 30,000 amperes flows for a fraction of a second.
The air around the discharge is heated to around 30,000 degrees Celsius. This expands explosively and there is a characteristic noise: the thunder. The lightning strikes preferably in the highest point. That is why the hiker should leave fields or meadows if possible during thunderstorms so as not to represent the highest point himself.
During thunderstorms: avoid all trees!
It can be just as fatal to escape under a tree: If lightning strikes the trunk, the tension can jump over, or branches are blown off. These can then fall on the head of those who seek shelter under the tree.
The old saying about the beeches to be searched for and the oaks that you should give way to is not true, by the way. There are theories according to which lightning strikes in oaks could actually be particularly dangerous, since their wood has a comparatively high water content. However, this is not adequately documented.
It is better to assume that lightning can strike anywhere. Lone trees are particularly at risk.
Thunder and lightning: away with cell phones and bikes
It is also important to keep your distance from metal during thunderstorms: Bicycles, cell phones, ski poles and railings do not attract lightning; but if it hits there, metal objects conduct electricity particularly well - this can lead to massive burns.
Dangerous outdoors is not only lightning that hits you directly, but also the impact in the immediate vicinity. The electricity is passed on well in the ground. If you are surprised by a thunderstorm outdoors, you should therefore never lie flat on the ground, but always crouch and put your legs as close together as possible. Several people who are out and about in a thunderstorm should keep their distance from one another as much as possible.
Better to hop than run to escape a thunderstorm
But the best thing to do is to protect a permanent building with lightning rods - you should only be careful of cables there and not even take a shower. The car is also safe outside: it forms a so-called "Faraday cage" in which the current flows through the metal body into the ground without injuring the occupants.
By the way, it can be dangerous to run away from a thunderstorm. Even if the lightning strikes the arc several meters away, the so-called step tension threatens to life. From the point of impact, the tension spreads in a circle and loses its strength in the process. If the feet are now apart because you are taking a step, then there is a voltage difference between them and the current can flow through the body.
Experts actually advise hopping away from the center of the thunderstorm with your legs together if you absolutely have to. For the same reason, staying in the water during a thunderstorm is so dangerous: Here, too, there is a sharp drop in voltage from the point of lightning strike, and a body elongated in the water has such great differences in voltage that the current flows through it and causes serious injuries such as burns or even lead to cardiac arrest.
In addition to running and swimming, there are a few other sports that are particularly dangerous during thunderstorms: horse riding, for example. On the one hand you sit on the high horse very exposed to lightning and on the other hand the horse has a very high step tension.
Statistically speaking, however, golfing, at least in the USA, is the most dangerous sport when there is lightning and thunder: every fifth lightning death there has swung the club and received an impact in the process.
However, the chance of surviving an immediate lightning strike is not so bad: Paradoxically, the enormous current strength of the lightning comes to our aid, which builds up such a high voltage across the resistance of the body that the lightning takes the distance to the Can bridge the ground and only races over the body shell - the skin is also a particularly good electrical conductor.
A person is said to have been struck by lightning several times: between 1942 and 1977, the parking lot attendant Roy C. Sullivan from Virginia (USA) was the victim of lightning seven times, including losing a toenail and repeatedly suffering burns in various parts of the body. However, he did not win the lottery.
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