Struck By Lightning

Have you ever wondered what happens when you get struck by lightning?

What Happens When You Get Struck by Lightning?

A lot can happen when you get struck by lightning. While some people walk away with only minor injuries, others lose their lives.

Ready to learn what happens when you get struck by lightning and how you can prevent being struck in the first place? Read through this guide for everything you need to know about lightning strike survivors, injuries, and deaths, or click on the subject you’d like to learn more about below.

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How Can Lightning Strike You?

When you think of lightning striking a person, you might imagine a strike directly hitting them. While direct strikes can hit people and even kill them, that’s not the most common way it happens. Indirect lightning strikes are responsible for most human lightning injuries and fatalities.

There are five ways lightning can strike you:

Direct Strike

Conduction or Contact Flash (Indirect)

Streamers (Indirect)

Side Flash (Indirect)

Ground Current (Indirect)

What is a Direct Lightning Strike?

A direct lightning strike icon directly hitting a person

A direct lightning strike is when lightning strikes a person directly, meaning the person becomes a part of the main lightning discharge channel.

According to our lightning scientists, direct strikes are responsible for the least amount of lightning strike fatalities and injuries, accounting for just 3%.

If you’re struck by a direct lightning strike, a portion of the current moves along and just over the skin surface. The technical phrase for this process is “flashover”. Then a portion of the current moves through the body. Normally it moves through the cardiovascular and/or the nervous systems.

When you about think being struck by lightning, a direct strike is probably what comes to mind first. While direct lightning strikes are potentially the most deadly, they are the least likely to occur.

Direct lightning strikes are almost always cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. Did you that our total lightning detection network detected 8,170,185 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the U.S. during the first six months of 2019 alone? That’s 8,170,185 potential direct lightning strike victims!

Direct lightning strikes often hit people open areas. These lightning strike victims often do not know a lightning threat is present.

What is Conduction?

An icon depicting a conduction lightning strike hitting a person

Conduction lightning strikes happen when lightning travels through wires or metal surfaces before hitting a person. We also call these contact strikes. While metal doesn’t attract lightning, it does unfortunately provide a path for the lightning to follow.

Contact strikes account for 3% of all lightning strikes.

People both inside and outside are at risk for conduction lightning strikes if they are in contact with anything connected to metal wires, plumbing, or any other metal surfaces, like a chain-link fence. Indoors, this includes anything that plugs into an electrical outlet, water faucets and showers, corded phones, and windows and doors. Remember to always take indoor lightning safety seriously.

Lightning can travel a long distance in wiring or other metal surfaces, which is one of the many reasons why conduction lightning strikes kill people both indoors and outdoors every year. The video below shows an Earth Networks Total Lightning Network analysis of a case where a lightning strike traveled through a cell phone charging wire and struck a teenager.

What are Lightning Streamers?

An icon showing a lightning streamer hitting a person while the leader hits a tree

Streamers are a part of most lightning strikes. We also call these upward leaders. Upward leaders are responsible for 10% of lightning fatalities.

When lightning strikes the ground, you can launch an upward leader. Trees and other tall objects can also launch upward leaders.

You do not have to be close to the strike point for this to happen. All you need to do is be in a high electric field or be close to any channel of the lightning flash. This means you can be several miles away from a lightning strike and still launch an upward leader.

What is a Side Flash?

An icon depicting a side flash or side splash indirect lightning strike striking a person

A side flash (or side splash) occurs when lightning strikes a taller object near you and a portion of the current jumps from the taller object to your body.

Side flashes are responsible for about 33% of lightning fatalities.

Side flashes generally occur when victims are a foot or two away from the object that is struck. A lot of side flash lightning strike victims are those seeking shelter under a tree or other tall object, which is something you should never do during a thunderstorm.

You may remember hearing about a lightning strike at a PGA Tour Championship that injured six fans. They were underneath a tree when lightning struck.

A side flash is a type of indirect lightning strike .

Indirect lightning strikes are strikes that discharge their electricity into another object before hitting a person. The rest of the ways lightning can strike you in our list are all indirect lightning strikes.

What is Ground Current?

A ground current indirect lightning strike hitting a person (Icon)

A ground current is a type of indirect lightning strike that travels to the ground before hitting a person. When lightning strikes an object, like a tree, much of the energy travels outward from the strike in and along the ground surface.

Ground current causes the most lightning deaths and injuries in both people and animals. Ground currents account for 50% of all lightning strike fatalities.

This is because ground current affects a much larger area than direct strikes, side flashes, conduction, and streamers. Anyone outdoors or on a floor made of conductive materials is at risk for a ground current strike.

Typically, lightning enters the body at the contact point closest to the lightning strike. Then it travels through the cardiovascular and/or nervous systems before exiting the body at the contact point farthest from the initial lightning strike.

Ground current lightning strikes typically go up one leg and out the other. They have about a 30 ft kill radius.

One good lightning safety tip to remember if you can’t get to shelter is to crouch low with as little of your body touching the ground as possible to minimize the impact of a ground current strike. Only do this if you cannot get to a lightning safe shelter.

What Happens When You Get Struck by Lightning?

When lightning directly or indirectly strikes a person, the lightning’s charge (300kV of electricity) and heat (50,000 degrees F) can do a lot of damage.

Lightning strikes can inflict both cardiovascular and neurological damage on the human body. If you’re struck by lightning, your lightning strike side effects could be as minor as cataracts or as serious as death.

There are a plethora of lightning strike side effects. Lightning strike side effects can be both physical, like Lichtenberg scars ; and mental, like difficulty concentrating. They also range from long-term problems, like chronic nerve pain; to delayed symptoms, like personality changes.

In the next few sections, we’ll break down some of the most common lightning strike injuries and side effects. That way, you’ll know exactly what can happen if you’re ever struck by lightning.

You can also watch our video on the Medical Effects of Lightning Victims from Lightning Safety Awareness Week below.

Mild Symptoms

When we talk about the mild symptoms lightning strike victims may experience, we don’t mean they are no big deal. In fact, some of these symptoms can induce a lot of pain and prompt drastic lifestyle changes for victims.

However, they are less severe than the long-term and delayed symptoms we cover a little further down in this guide. If you’re struck by lightning, some of the least-intrusive symptoms you can hope for include:

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Lightning burns

Hearing loss

Vision problems

Muscle soreness or pain

Headaches and/or dizziness

Mild confusion

Nausea and/or upset stomach

In the following sections, we’ll cover three of the most interesting mild lightning side effects: Burns, hearing loss, and vision problems.

Lightning Burns

A bolt of lightning can reach temperatures approaching 50,000 degrees F. That’s just about five times hotter than the surface of the sun. So when a lightning strike travels over a person’s skin, it will leave a mark.

Lightning burns are a type of electrical burn characterized by a unique pattern of skin lesions. People call lightning burns a bunch of different names, including Lichtenberg figures, keraunographic markings, feathering, ferning, lightning flowers, and lightning trees. These burns appear when lightning causes capillaries beneath the skin to rupture.

Lightning burns usually appear within hours of the strike though they tend to disappear within a few days. Generally, lightning burns appear on the top half of the body.

Hearing Loss

Another mild medical effect lightning strike victims often experience is hearing loss or hearing problems.

Also known as Otolaryngologic injuries, hearing injuries from lightning strikes happen when the lightning channel’s sonic shock wave causes an acoustic rupture of the tympanic membrane. This can cause permanent deafness in lightning strike victims.

Vision Problems

Lightning strike victims can also experience vision problems. The most common lightning strike vision side effect is the development of a cataract.

The first case of a lightning-induced cataract was reported in 1722 by St. Yves. Cataracts from lightning strikes typically present themselves anywhere from 2 months to 1 year after the injury. Lightning strikes can cause both anterior and posterior coarse subcapsular opacities in the eye. These can impair vision significantly and often require surgical removal.

Our Manager of Club Safety here at Earth Networks, Brian Smack, was struck by lightning along with three of his friends. His wife, who was also struck, developed a cataract less than a year after the injury at 24-years-old. You can read Brian’s entire story on our blog.


Besides cataracts, lightning strikes can also cause corneal damage and complete blindness.

Long-Term Problems

Along with the mild side effects listed above, there are plenty of long-term problems that can result from a lightning strike as well. The seven most common long-term lightning side effects include:

Problems multitasking

Slower reaction times


Chronic pain from nerve injury

Headaches that do not resolve with over-the-counter medicine

Ringing in the ears

Problems processing new information and remembering old information

Delayed Symptoms

Some of the most drastic lightning strike medical effects show up months or even years after the lightning injury. We refer to these as delayed symptoms.

Lightning strikes can cause serious delayed symptoms in victims, including:

Personality changes


Difficulty carrying a conversation


Chronic pain


A Note on Delayed Symptoms

A large problem lightning strike victims face with delayed symptoms is making the connection between the lightning strike and the side effect. These lightning strike medical effects could take years to present themselves.

These delayed symptoms have extremely disrupting natures. A lot of times, lightning strike victims need the help of medical professionals and/or close friends and family to identify and treat the lightning strike side effect.

If someone you know is a lightning strike survivor, make sure you keep an eye out for these symptoms. Remember, it can take years for side effects like these to show up. As these are serious side effects, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

How Does Lightning Kill People?

blue heart icon

Unfortunately, the most serious medical side effect of lightning strikes is death. Lightning kills people by stopping their hearts .

As we briefly mentioned before, lightning strikes have a very high amplitude of 30kV. That’s 300,000 amps of electric charge. Our bodies are not equipped to handle that much charge.

When the charge from a lightning strike runs through a human heart, it interrupts the heart’s normal, regular current that makes it beat. That stops the heart. If the victim doesn’t receive quick and comprehensive medical attention, they often pass away from cardiovascular arrest.

What are the Odds of Being Struck by Lightning?

The odds of being struck by lightning aren’t as unlikely as you might think. In fact, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than win the Mega Millions.

The chance of being struck by lightning is just 1 in 10,000 .

The chance of winning the Mega Millions in 1 in 259,000,000.

How Many People Are Struck By Lightning Each Year?

To better understand the odds of being struck, you should know how many people are struck by lightning annually.

According to our friends at the National Weather Service (NWS), lightning strikes and kills an average of 43 people per year in the United States. This average comes from a 30-year time span between 1989-2018. It is also important to note that these are all the reported lightning fatalities. There could be more that are unreported.

Not everyone that gets struck by lightning dies. Lightning injures far more people than it kills. According to the NWS, lightning kills only 10% of people it strikes. In the U.S., experts estimate the annual number of lightning injuries is 243.

How Many People Are Struck By Lightning Worldwide?

That’s a little more difficult to say with certainty. We work closely with different states and institutions in India, where it’s estimated that over 2,000 people are struck and killed by lightning each year. Experts agree that a safe annual estimate for deaths worldwide is 24,000. For injuries, that number jumps to 240,000 each year.

What Do You Do If Someone Is Struck By Lightning?

blue icon of stick figure performing CPR on another stick figure

If someone near you is struck by lightning the most important thing you can do is act quickly. It is important to note that lightning strike victims do not carry an electrical charge.

Since lightning strike victims are safe to touch, you should approach them immediately and get medical help as soon as possible. Here are the steps you should take if someone is struck by lightning:

Call 911

People struck by lightning may suffer cardiac arrest. Immediate and aggressive resuscitation greatly improves survival rates.

Start CPR

It is safe to touch lightning victims. The body does not keep a charge.

If the person is unconscious and does not appear to be breathing normally, has no breath, or no pulse, use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is on hand. If you don’t have an AED, start CPR. Do not removed burned clothing unless necessary.

Treat for Shock, if Necessary

If the victim is conscious and needs treatment for shock, lay them down with their head slightly lower than their torso and legs. If the victim does not seem to be in shock and can move, move to a lightning safe shelter like a grounded building or vehicle.

Follow Up

Once medical professionals arrive on the scene, they will assess the victim’s condition and bring them to a hospital or nearby medical center. Once there, they will examine the victim for internal or neurological injuries and burns.

Acting quickly after someone is struck by lightning can save lives.

You can see the importance of a quick response in the video below. A man was walking his dogs when lightning struck him, knocking him out and sending him crashing into the concrete. Luckily, people nearby rushed to his aid. They performed CPR and called 911, saving the man’s life. You can read the full story on ABC News .

Shocking surveillance video shows a man struck by lightning while walking his dogs, seconds before three good Samaritans rushed to his aid and saved his life.

— ABC News (@ABC) October 5, 2019

How Can I Protect Myself and Others from Being Struck by Lightning?

Now that you know how much damage a lightning strike can do, it’s time to protect yourself and others from it. There is no way to stop a lightning strike from happening, so how do you protect people? Our experts think there are two steps.

Learn How Lightning Forms

The first step in preventing lightning strike injuries and fatalities is understanding how lightning forms. The more you can learn about lightning, how it forms, and when it’s most dangerous, the safer you and those around you will be. Head over to our Lightning Facts page to learn everything from how lightning forms to common lightning myths so you can give yourself a strong lightning safety foundation rooted in scientific facts.

Click here to read our lightning facts page

Learn How To Protect Yourself and Others With Lightning Detection

As you continue to learn about lightning, you’ll start to understand that there is no way to protect people, organizations, and infrastructure from lightning strikes without the right technology. There are many lightning safety tools like weather maps, lightning apps, horns, strobes, and special alerts, but they only work if they use total lightning detection. What is total lightning detection and why is it necessary for comprehensive lightning safety? Check out our Lightning Detection page to find out.

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What Happens When Lightning Hits A Car

What Happens When Lightning Hits A Car?

This may be very surprising, but your car can get struck by lightning. Contrary to popular belief, your car’s rubber tires won’t prevent your vehicle from being hit by lightning.

This prevalent myth has been debunked many times. Lightning has a higher chance of hitting a car than other objects.

Despite this, many still say that you should hide in a car if you can’t stay safe from lightning in a building.

This article will look at what will happen to your car if it gets hit with lightning. We are also going to discuss what you should do if your vehicle is struck by lightning. Additionally, we will look at if you are safe from lightning in a car.

What Happens When Lightning Hits A Car?

As we now know, your car can still be hit by lightning regardless of the rubber tires. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it will hit your car antenna or the outer metal shell in most cases. The lightning will then travel through the outer shell and pass through to the car’s rubber tires into the ground.

You need to note that every lightning strike is different, so the amount of damage that your vehicle will suffer varies.

Lightening is exceptionally volatile and is four times the heat of the sun. Certain types of damage are common with lightning strikes. A typical lightning strike can cause your car’s antenna to melt partially. This is due to the antenna usually being the focal point for the strike.

Lightning strikes can wreak havoc with your car’s electrical system and can often wholly fry the electrical components. Lightning strikes affect both the interior and exterior of your car, and both can suffer damages. Your car’s side mirrors could fuse to the car.

The paint on your car can become scorched, and your car’s windshield can be shattered. In worst-case scenarios, a car hit by lightning can be destroyed and result in life loss.

Why Is This Important?

It is essential to know how lighting can affect a car. If you know how lightning hits a vehicle, you know the damages. It is also crucial to understand how lightning travels through a car.

This is so you are mindful not to place your hands on any exposed metal of the vehicle. A lightning strike is likely to pass through the car’s outer shell.

What To Do If Lightning Hits Your Car

Should lightning hit your car, it’s important not to panic. During a lightning storm, your car’s roof allows electricity from the lightning strike to travel along the outside of your car’s shell. Theoretically, anything inside the vehicle should remain unharmed if the occupants don’t touch anything metal.

This means that you should not hold your cellphone, touching your door handles, steering wheel, and car radio. If lightning hits your car, stay inside the vehicle until the storm clears.

However, should you notice any sparks or see signs of a potential explosion, you will need to exit the car safely. Take note that you shouldn’t touch the vehicle’s exterior for some time following a lightning strike as the car could still conduct electricity.

Can Your Car Get Struck By Lightning

Why Is This Important?

If you know what to do when your car is hit by lightning, it could be the difference between life and death. You will also be able to potentially prevent yourself from getting any injuries if you stay in a vehicle during any lightning storm and don’t touch anything metal.

Are You Safe From Lightning In A Car?

During a lightning storm, you can seek shelter in a hard-topped car. Don’t seek refuge in a car with a soft-top like a convertible as the lightning will pass through the vehicle and is likely to strike you. No open space outside is safe for you during a lightning storm.

You can use a car to stay safe during a storm. You might think it wouldn’t be safe to stay in during a storm, but it is.

A car is one of the absolute safest places you can be as the car’s shell acts as a faraday cage. Sitting in the car, keeping your hands in your lap, and waiting out a storm should enable you to escape the storm with no injuries.

Importantly don’t leave your windows down during a lightning storm as this will make your car an unsafe place to be. The lightning will enter the vehicle, and you could get seriously injured.

Why Is This Important?

Staying in a car during a storm is one of the safest places for you to seek shelter if you do not have a building nearby. A vehicle will prevent serious injuries should you not touch anything metal while you wait out the storm.

Where To Situate Your Car During A Lightning Storm

Lightning storms are hazardous events. Luckily if you are in your car when one breaks out, this is one of the safest places that you could be. When driving in your vehicle and you start to hear thunder, lightning is sure to be close behind.

If you cannot make it home, then you need to seek shelter for at least thirty minutes until you hear the last sound of thunder.

Avoid parking in elevated areas such as hills and mountains, as lightning strikes there first. You will want to ease off the road and park somewhere in a low-lying area. However, do not park under any trees or near any water bodies such as ponds or lakes.

You must also stay away from any objects that can conduct electricity like telephone poles and wire fences.

Why Is This Important?

Parking in a low area is vital if you want to minimize your car’s risk of being hit by lightning.

Final Words

To conclude, your car can be struck by lightning. However, your vehicle is also one of the safest places that you can be during a lightning storm.

If you close your windows and keep your hands placed in your lap, you will likely get through a lightning storm unscathed.

James has been a car enthusiast since his childhood when he learned the differences between a ford and a chevy from his father. He loves to drive and restore old cars with a special drive for Italian marvels. Currently, he has a 1968 Alfa Romeo. He has studied aeronautics and civil aviation in his college and still gets smitten by Galant SS and Lancer GSR.

He is a New York-based product training director working with a giant automotive retailer. He loves to review and uncover the vehicles and their fascinating stories. He believes in keeping it legitimate with a keen passion for research on the latest technological upgrades in cars. While reading his articles or blogs, you can sense the extensive research and dedication backing the piece of text. He loves fried chicken, music, and spending quality time with his pet dog.

What happens when your car is struck by lightning?

With the onset of the rainy season, it becomes even more important for drivers of all ages (and experience levels) to pack a little extra caution before driving in the wet.

We should all be familiar with the motions by now, and going through them should be second nature. Like checking your tires to see if they still have enough tread left, the better to expel water as you go and prevent hydroplaning. Then there’s inspecting your windshield and window glass to make sure you can still see clearly through them. Or making sure that all your lights work, especially the headlights and turn signals, so that other drivers can easily see you even in a sudden downpour or fog.

car struck by lightning

It becomes even more important for drivers of all ages to pack a little extra caution before driving in the wet

But even if we’d like to think that we’ve got wet weather driving covered, Mother Nature can still pull a few surprises up her sleeve. One of them is lightning, one of the most beautiful spectacles yet deadliest natural phenomena on Earth. Car struck by lighting is not a rare incident on the road at all.

Now, it’s easy to put two and two together and assume the worst. After all, lightning is a whole lot more electricity than you’d be readily comfortable with, and electricity is easily conducted through metal, which is what your car is made of, presumably. But should you start putting off driving in a thunderstorm and just wait for the skies to clear? Not necessarily.

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  • Driving under stormy weather: A driver’s must-know​
  • 9 tips to take care of your car before the upcoming wet season​

1. What causes lightning?

Lightning, if it isn’t already obvious by now, is a large electric current. But to understand how lightning forms, we need to take a look at the water cycle.

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The Philippines has a tropical climate, which means we’re no stranger to hot weather. When the sun is out and heats the ground, the air above the ground grows hotter as well. This evaporates moisture on the surface, be it that fallen ice cube on the pavement, standing water on your roof gutter, or even the largest bodies of water around like rivers, lakes and seas.

What Is Lightning?

With the moisture drying up on account of the heat it absorbed, it becomes water vapor, making it light enough to ascend freely into the atmosphere. Just as the heat on the surface of the earth made the water vapor rise towards the sky, the increasingly colder temperatures on its way up will cause the water vapor to gradually revert to its liquid form as well.

We usually notice cooled-down water vapor in the sky as clouds. They’re certainly pretty to look at during sunny days, but gather enough water vapor and you’ll get a cloud that’s just about ready to burst with ice-cold water.

A cloud contains millions and millions of suspended water droplets and ice, with the continuous process of evaporation and condensation inevitably making these molecules collide with each other; think of when the MRT tries to unload and load passengers at each station during rush hour.


Clouds look puffy, but they conceal a battle between positive and negative electrical charges

As a result of these collisions, electrons are knocked off, resulting in what is known as a charge separation. The moisture continues to rise minus its electrons, going to the top portion of the cloud and giving it a positive charge. Meanwhile, the displaced electrons gather at the lower portion of the cloud and give it a negative charge.

If the positive and negative charges within the cloud get large enough, a huge spark – lightning – can travel between them, on account of the electric field involved in the charge separation process. As the cloud continues to get even bigger with evaporation and condensation, this electric field grows in strength, so much that electrons on the surface of the ground are repelled by the negative charge at the bottom of the cloud. With the ground now having a strong positive charge, the ideal conditions are created for it to be contacted by the negatively-charged cloud bottom. This enables lightning to travel from the cloud to the ground, posing a very real danger to anything and anyone on the surface, including you and your car.

2. What happens when my car is struck by lightning?

We were all taught to avoid open fields in a thunderstorm, implying that only structures of considerable height from the surface of the ground can get hit by a lightning strike. The truth is, lightning’s path is still far from predictable; while taller objects are more likely to get hit directly, the area around them is also susceptible. This explains why some cars get hit by lightning, even when they’re surrounded by skyscrapers or even larger vehicles on the highway.

When lightning (or electricity in general) strikes an object made of conducting material, the current’s higher frequencies will cause it to be carried on the outside of this material; it’s known as the skin effect, because the current seems to travel along the surface, or skin, of the object. This means that when lightning hits your car, the electricity only flows around the body outside and into the ground, acting like a Faraday cage. The car’s metal doors and glass windows will protect the occupants inside from the worst of the electrical charge, which can be lethal in many cases. Take note that this only applies to vehicles with metal roofs, or hardtops. Convertibles, with their cloth or canvas roofing, provide no such protection, and will likely leave you vulnerable to a direct lightning strike. There is presumably a similar level of risk for cars with carbon fiber or fiberglass roofs.

a convertible

Convertibles won’t be able to protect you from lightning strikes

The effects of a lightning striking a car vary greatly, from little or no signs at all to extensive damage on the exterior. Given that the force of a lightning strike is largely limited to the outside of the car, some of the external damage it might sustain include arcing and pitting, which result in tiny craters, welds, burn marks, peeling and rusting on the surface.

Now, even if you are largely shielded from the damaging effects of lightning, your car’s components may not be as lucky. Some of the electrical charge may flow through to the electrical system, overloading it and damaging features such as your radio, navigation systems and plug-in accessories like mobile phone chargers and dashcams.

Even basic features such as the lights, steering, brakes and the engine can be compromised. After a direct hit, your car might run for a few more seconds, even as the systems shut down. Then it will abruptly stop, as if stalling. In some cases, the lightning strike can blow out some or all of the car’s tires, or even set the car on fire by igniting fuel in the tank.

There has been at least one instance where a car was struck by lightning, shutting down the engine and causing the airbags to deploy, leaving the driver with bruised ribs.

car struck by lighting

An especially bad lightning strike can reduce your car to this

3. So how do I stay safe out there?

Just because lightning is unpredictable doesn’t mean you’ll have to cower in fear every time the rains come. Fact is, there are reasons why we do have to be out on the road, despite the weather.

Say that you happen to be driving along the open road when you noticed that the sky’s getting dark. You think about seeking shelter, but there isn’t a single roof on either side of the road. Then you hear the rumble of thunder in the distance, which could signal a lightning strike at any time.

First, you’ll need to stay calm and listen. Estimate how far a brewing storm is from your location by counting the seconds between a flash of lightning that you see and the thunder that comes afterward. Three seconds between the lightning and the thunder represents approximately one kilometer. The closer the interval, the nearer you are to the storm, and the more urgent it is for you to get to a safe place.

Second, keep all the windows closed. Remember that lightning travels along the outside surface of a closed object, so don’t leave any openings where the lightning bolt can pass through directly and hit you.

girl in car

Always keep doors and windows closed during a thunderstorm

Third, if you find that the storm has worsened before you’ve reached the safety of the indoors, park your car at the side of the road and switch off the ignition. Considering that a lightning strike is very much capable of incapacitating your car, it would be best if you’re at a standstill rather than in motion, where the loss of your engine, brakes and steering will have even more disastrous consequences.

Fourth, avoid touching anything metallic inside the car, including the door handles and your seatbelt buckles. Some of the electrical charge from lightning can still find its way inside, passing through the foot pedals, door handles, steering column and shift lever. Put your hands on your lap, away from the steering wheel. Remove your feet from the pedals, and do not fiddle with any electronic accessory that is connected to the car’s electrical system.

car cockpit

Avoid touching anything metallic or electronic if you’re driving through a thunderstorm

At best, the storm will just pass right over you without incident, and you can go on your merry way afterward. At worst, your car will be the target of a direct lightning strike, so give it ample time to make sure that the current has completely gone to the ground before either attempting to start your car, or going outside to seek help.

Now, even if the car does manage to start and have no visible marks, it might be a good idea to subject the car to a diagnostic test to determine if there’s any electrical damage. As far as insurance claims go, a comprehensive policy that includes Acts of Nature coverage can help pay for damage sustained during a lightning strike.

The reality of driving is that we need to be constantly on the lookout for dangers not only on the road, but from the skies too. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to take those extra steps to make sure that we’ll live long enough to savor another driving day.




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