June 25, 2009

Storm of the Century of the Week - Summah Division

I see that it's "Lightning Safety Awareness Week" and NOAA is busy scaring the bejeebus out of us. You think you're safe in your house during a thunderstorm? Think again!

There are three main ways lightning enters homes and buildings: (1) a direct strike, (2) through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and (3) through the ground. Regardless of the method of entrance, once in a structure, the lightning can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in Concrete walls or flooring.

In the past, the use of corded phones was the leading cause of
indoor lightning injuries in the United States. However, with
more and more cordless and cell phones in use, the number of
phone injuries has been diminishing. At the same time, the number of
children injured while playing video games that are plugged into
a wall or television has been increasing. Lightning can travel long
distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in
rural areas.

Stay away from windows and doors as these can
provide the path for a direct strike to enter a home. Do not lie on the
concrete floor of a garage as it likely contains a wire mesh. In
general, basements are a safe place to go during thunderstorms.

However, there are some things to keep in mind. Avoid contact
with concrete walls which may contain metal reinforcing bars. Avoid
washers and dryers since they not only have contacts with the
plumbing and electrical systems, but also contain an electrical
path to the outside through the dryer vent.

I'm convinced there's a movie plot in here somewhere: Global warming and Big Agro genetic engineering somehow combine to produce smart, eeeeevile, long-lasting lightning bolts that hunt people down in their homes.

Posted by Robert at June 25, 2009 09:14 AM | TrackBack

Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas.

Well, I'm screwed.

Posted by: GroovyVic at June 25, 2009 03:15 PM

I recently took a Continuing Education class on Lighting Injuries, necessary to keep my EMS certification current. Basically, you are risk if you are anywhere except in a fully enclosed structure.

Which makes our survival to high school remarkable as several times LMC and I delivered newpapers from a bike, in summer thunderstorms.

Posted by: KMR at June 25, 2009 03:26 PM

It was only recently that I learned a rag-top car does not offer protection. The eldest Llama-ette and I got caught out in a thunderstorm in the jeep last weekend. I thought it best to keep my knowledge to myself.

I've been wondering whether NOAA is beefing up the story any because of the unusually high number of kills so far this season, including that little league kid down in Fredericksburg.

We're doomed, I tell ya. DOOOOOOOMED!!!

Posted by: Robbo the LB at June 25, 2009 03:51 PM