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Lightning Strike Q&A

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has answers for your questions on lightning safety

Who is at greatest risk for lightning strikes?

Men are more likely to be struck by lightning, and most victims are 15–34 years old and frequently work or play outside. Those working in the construction or farming industries are most often struck. The average person’s chances of being hit by lightning are about 1 in 500,000.

How does lightning cause injuries?

Lightning can cause injuries in various ways, including through:

  • Direct strikes, which often cause death.
  • Contact, when a victim is touching an object that lightning strikes.
  • Side flashes, which occur when lightning bounces or “splashes” off an object and onto a victim.
  • Ground currents that pass from a strike point in the ground to a victim.
  • Streamers, which can come up from objects near the ground.

What happens to the body when lightning strikes?

Blunt trauma, neurological effects such as muscle or eye injuries, skin lesions, burns, and death can result from lightning strikes. About 10% of people struck by lightning die from it.

What should I do if I see someone get struck?

Call 911 immediately. It is safe to touch a victim who has been struck by lightning.

How can I protect myself from lightning?

If outside during a thunderstorm, seek shelter immediately, ideally in a fully enclosed building or hardtop vehicle with the windows rolled up. Do not lie down on the ground or go under a tree.

If inside during a thunderstorm, follow these safety tips:

  • Do not use corded phones, computers or electronic equipment.
  • Stay out of the shower and away from plumbing.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.