Geophysical Events: Thunderstorm and Lightning

Damage/harm caused by thunderstorms and lightning and how to deal with it.

lightning Florida Keys

Thunderstorms and Lightning

All thunderstorms and lightning are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which could kill people. Cattle are also vulnerable to lightning.

It is the lightning that produces thunder in a thunderstorm. Lightning is unpredictable, which increases the risk to individuals and property.

Persons struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, such as, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression, and an inability to sit for long.

Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain area, and may occur as far as 15 kms. away from any rainfall. “Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard, but the storm may be moving in close.

Strong thunderstorms produce hail. Large hails can break window glasses and can injure people and animals. Livestock are particularly vulnerable to hail.

What to do before a Thunderstorm and Lightning

  • In the event of a thunderstorm, outside visit should be restricted. The sound of thunder is indicative of the storm being near, in such a situation, one should seek shelter as quick as possible.
  • The “crouch down” position should be practiced for safety.
  • As the lightening usually strikes the highest point in the area, proximity to tall structures such as trees, towers, fences, telephone lines or powerlines should be avoided.
  • Metal structures such as poles, rods etc. should be maintained distance with, as they attract lightening.
  • When lightning strikes nearby, the electrical charge can travel through the water, therefore one must stay away from water bodies such as lakes, ponds, rivers, canals etc.

Precaution and Mitigation

  • Lightning can damage electric appliances, such as television, fridge, air conditioner, telephone etc. They must therefore be switched off in the event of a thunderstorm.
  • Trees and shrubs should be trimmed and put around the house.
  • Installation of lightning conducting rods, will carry the electrical charge of lightning bolts, safely to the ground.

What to do during a severe thunderstorm and lightning?

  • Natural lightning rods such as tractors, bicycles metals etc. should be avoided. Lightning is attracted to metal, poles and rods.
  • Shutting down the windows & doors will help in protecting the house from damaging winds or flying debris.
  • Electrical equipment and telephones should be avoided. Lightning could follow the wire. Television set is particularly dangerous during this time.
  • Bathtubs, water faucets, and sinks, should be avoided because metal pipes can transmit electricity.

What to do during lightning?

  • Lightning current often enters a victim through the ground rather than by a direct overhead strikes. A crouching position and minimum surface contact will be essential for one to avoid being prey to lightening.

What to do during a thunderstorm and lightning warning?

  • Windows should be covered.
  • Electrical Appliances should be unplugged.
  • Usage of telephone or any electrical appliance should be avoided.
  • Leaving electric lights on, does not increase the chances of a home being struck by lightning.
  • Taking a bath or shower, should be avoided.

What to do if someone is struck by lightning?

  • An emergency call should be made to 100/101 and 102 for Police/fire and medical service.
  • Wounds if any, should be covered with a sterilised cloth to stop bleeding. Rescue breathing should be initiated if the victim is not breathing. Further a trained person should give artificial respiration, if the victim has lost heart beat.
  • If a person is hit by electrical shock, the place on his body where the electricity left should be checked for burn wounds and treated accordingly, if found. Being struck by lightning can also cause nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing or eyesight. People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge that can shock other people, and they can be handled safely.
  • The victim should be rushed to the hospital for medical assistance without loss of time.
  • The entire relief and compensation amount due to the affected persons and victims should be extended to them.

District Administration should create awareness and educate people through schools / colleges / NCC and other organisation etc. about Do’s and Don’ts.

By K Siddhartha

Earth Scientist, Author, Mentor, Educationist & Consultant | 20+ years mentoring experience | 40+ books across humanities disciplines | Advisor to Maldivian & Sri Lankan Govt. on Education and Environmental Issues.

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