How not to get hit by lightning
First let me acknowledge this is an unusual post for a bright and sunny day, but lightning has been on my mind and I felt like reading up on the best way to avoid being struck.
A few weeks ago I spent about 30 minutes walking around outside at night in the rain in a decent sized storm that eventually resulted in thunder and lightning.
That same week I spent the better part of the morning running around Toronto in a torrential downpour as bolts cracked and flashed in rapid succession across the sky.
I have long maintained that if my death was sudden I would want the cause to be something a little more interesting than train or car. Or at least something I had a chance of avoiding with a little common sense (or turning off my iPod before I crossed the street).
Imagined options include bear, shark or a metal safe dropping from a tall building during a bank robbery. It is my deepest hope that the person writing my obituary will get to enjoy a good chuckle or two.
Lightning would be an unusual death but not one I would wish on anyone. I imagine you do not, as well. So here are some tips from Environment Canada on what not to do if you get stuck outside in a storm.
Their position: There is no safe place outside during a storm and anyone inside should not venture out until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder. (After reading that, I can safely conclude that running from bus stop to bus stop with my metal coffee mug is not a safe way to behave.)
Below is a full list of tips from the website.
"If caught outdoors:
- Avoid putting yourself above the surrounding landscape. Seek shelter in low-lying areas such as valleys, ditches and depressions, but be aware of flooding.
- Stay away from water. Don't go boating or swimming if a storm threatens, and get to land as quickly as possible if you are already on the water. Lightning can strike the water and travel a substantial distance from its point of contact.
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as tractors, golf carts, golf clubs, metal fences, motorcycles, lawnmowers and bicycles.
- Avoid being the highest point in an open area. Swinging a golf club, or holding an umbrella or fishing rod can make you the tallest object and a target for lightning.
- You are safe inside a car during lightning, but be aware of downed power lines that may be touching your car. You are safe inside the car, but you may receive a shock if you step outside.
- In a forest, seek shelter in a low-lying area under a thick growth of small trees or bushes.
- Keep alert for flash floods, sometimes caused by heavy rainfall, if seeking shelter in a ditch or low-lying area.
- Before the storm hits, disconnect electrical appliances, including radios and television sets. Do not touch them during the storm.
- Don't go outside unless absolutely necessary.
- Keep as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
- Don't handle electrical equipment or telephones. The electrical current from the lightning strike will travel through wires and cords and if you are directly connected with them, you could be struck. Use battery-operated appliances only. Cordless telephones are safe, however you could receive a very loud noise on the phone that may seem like a shock. This would be consistent with the house or somewhere nearby being struck by lightning."