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Six common myths and misconceptions about lightning

Posted at 7:33 PM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-11 21:26:59-04

Illinois woman Brittney Prehn was struck by lighting at Country Thunder in Twin Lakes in July. TODAY'S TMJ4 anchor Susan Kim has an exclusive interview with Prehn about her miraculous recovery Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m. on Live at Daybreak.

Stories like Brittney Prehn's bring out a lot of misconceptions and myths about lightning. Here's six you should be aware of:

  • Lightning never strikes the same place twice: The National Weather Service says that lightning often does strike the same place more than once, especially if the object is tall and pointy. The Empire State Building, for example, has been struck an average of 23 times per year.
  • If there isn't rain or clouds, you're safe from lighting: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far away from the rain or thunderstorm cloud.
  • You are completely safe from lightning if you're indoors: Lightning can rarely sneak in the crack of windows. You're more likely to be safe if you avoid windows and objects that conduct electricity.
  • Laying flat on the ground is a safe way to avoid lightning: Laying flat actually increases the chance of being hit by a potentially deadly ground current. If you're caught in a storm you should continue moving toward shelter.
  • A tree is a safe shelter if you are caught in a storm: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. 
  • Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning: A car is generally a safe place to be during a storm, but that's because of the metal roof and sides, not the tires. However, when lightning does strike a vehicle it goes through the metal frame into the ground, so remember not to lean on doors during a storm.