Five ways to get struck by lightning

It can happen any time during the year, but it is more frequent (and noticeable) during the summer months, especially during the afternoons with our summer weather pattern. This is the reason why Florida is lightning capital of the United States.

All lightning is dangerous, many times fatally, but it can be preventable. You must be weather aware and take the right precautions. To put it in perspective, lightning is five times hotter than the sun!

Here are the ways a person can be struck by lightning:

Direct strike 

These strikes are the most deadly and often occur when a person is on an open field, such a golf course. The victim is the tallest point over the field and becomes part of the main lightning discharge channel. Part of the strike travels just over the surface of the skin, causing serious burns. The other part, one with the greatest threat for permanent damage, moves through the body, targeting cardiovascular and/or the nervous system

Side flash (or side splash) 

This is type of strike usually happens when a person is taking refuge under a taller object, such as a tree, at about 1 or 2 feet from the object. Here, the current jumps from the object to the victim. The victim takes some of the discharge of the strike, but "some" can be just enough to be fatal.

Ground current 

Lightning doesn’t just have to strike a person directly to be deadly. Once lightning strikes any object, or even the ground, it travels outward along the surface of the ground. Some types ground materials, such as the ones used in garages, could be more conductive. So if you think you might be safe because you took cover in your garage, make sure you take that extra step and go indoors. Ground lightning causes the most deaths and also the death of many farm animals. Usually the current will enter the body through the point closest to the strike and exit through the farthest. The greater the distance, the more dangerous it is.


Metal does not attract lightning, it is a conductor of it. This is when you can be struck by lightning in an indirect but still dangerous way. Most of the fatalities due to conduction is when people are inside their homes during a storm and come in contact with a metal object, surfaces, plugs, cord phones, water faucets, etc. When outside, discharges can travel through wires, such as fences.


Although the least common it can still be deadly. These are usually seen purple in the sky, the main strike, the leader, approaches the ground and opens a path for the return stroke. All the streamers, including the leader discharges even though they might not be connected to the leader.

The ability to survive a lightning strike will greatly depend on how fast the victim receives medical attention and how much current has moved through the body. If lightning strikes, you must immediately seek medical attention. It is OK to provide CPR to a victim of lightning, you won’t be shocked.

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