7 Striking Facts About Lightning

Your risk of being struck by lightning this year is 1 in 700,000, but the risk of being struck within your lifetime is much higher at 1 in 3,000. These are pretty scary odds. If you want to be safe, you may want to understand some facts about lightning. Here’s a look at its power, its frequency, where it strikes and a few additional striking tidbits.

1. Lightning Is Big and Powerful

A bolt of lightning can be over 5 miles in length. Essentially, lightning a huge swathe of uncontrolled electricity in the sky. It can increase air temperatures by 50,000 degrees, and it contains 100 million electrical volts.

2. Lightning Causes More Brain Injuries Than Burns

Surprisingly, in spite of its intense heat, lightning leads to more brain injuries than burns. The iconic Lichtenberg marks that are often associated with lightning victims look like a tree spread across the victim’s body. Contrary to popular belief, these scars aren’t burn scars. Rather, they show up when capillaries below the skin burst, and they often disappear after a few weeks or even hours in some cases. They don’t need to be treated like burn marks.

Seventy percent of victims experience long-term effects. In terms of brain damage, they tend to lose their memories, and many suffer intense personality changes. Brain damage can also present the same symptoms experienced by stroke victims or can lead to issues such as Parkinson’s disease.

3. Nerve Damage Is a Common Side Effect

One of the most common issues victims experience is extremely painful nerve damage. Basically, the nerves send constant signals to the brain that they are in pain.

4. Lightning Kills Approximately 84 People Every Year in the United States

This number is based on 3,696 deaths in the United States over a 44-year period between 1959 and 2003. Prior to this time period, there were actually a lot more lightning-related deaths. In the 1940s, in particular, there were approximately 300 to 400 deaths from lightning per year.
There’s no conclusive way to know why deaths were so common during that decade. However, many speculate that it was related to more farmers working on open tractors and more people talking on corded phones in homes that had no lightning protection.

5. Humans Are Usually Not Hit Directly

In many cases, the lightning doesn’t hit humans directly. Instead, it hits something else and travels to the person. For example, one bank teller was hit when lightning struck the building and traveled up the metal stool he was sitting on.

6. Men Are Hit More Than Women

In the United States, the majority of lightning victims are men. This doesn’t necessarily mean that men are intrinsically more likely to get struck than women, but men tend to get hit when they are outside doing leisure activities.

The most common activity that people are doing when they get struck by lightning outside is fishing. This is followed by the number of people struck by lightning while camping, boating and golfing.

7. Lighting Strikes About 100 Times Per Second

Worldwide, lightning strikes about 100 times every second. In the United States alone, there are approximately 5 million strikes of lightning every year.

As an individual, it’s critical to know lightning safety tips. If you own a home or a business, you should take extra steps to protect those buildings.

Contact us at B&B Lightning Protection for more information on how you can protect your residential or commercial structures. With over 50 years of combined experience in the industry, our qualified installers can help you take the necessary steps to protect your home or office from lightning.