VERIFY: Can Lightning Strike You In Your House? Car? Bus?

Verify: Lightning Strikes Pt. 2

GREENSBORO, NC -- This summertime forecast has ushered in a slew of loud storms and subsequent sleepless nights.

The storms have also raised questions and misconceptions about the storm's loudest and scariest element -- lightning.

Verify Questions

What causes lightning?

Under what circumstances can it hurt you?

Verify Process

Before we address fact versus fiction, we need to verify the lightning basics. For that, we turned to WFMY News 2 meteorologist Ed Matthews.

He explained, "Any thunderstorm with clouds can cause lightning. Everything has a charge. Clouds have a charge, the ground has a charge. When those charges build up electrically, they want to equalize -- when a negative charge comes out of the clouds and positive charge comes from the ground. A lightning strike develops in mid-air, and you see the flash."

He said lightning strikes can be cloud-to-cloud or cloud-to-ground, which is the dangerous kind. Statistically, lightning strikes the earth 100 times per second.

But under what circumstances can it hurt you?

To verify that part of the story, we gathered additional information from the National Weather Service NOAA, the National Lightning Safety Institute and the famous Discovery Channel Mythbusters.

First claim -- can lightning strike you in your house?

The National Weather Service says yes, if you're touching something that conducts electricity, like appliances, wires, TV cables, metal doors, windows and water pipes. That means you can, in fact, get electrocuted in your shower. Mythbusters tested the theory and proved it. So, experts recommend you want until the storm passes to take a shower. 

What about cars? The National Lightning Safety Institute says you're generally safe inside your car during lightning, but objects that connect to the outside of your car can conduct electricity. So, do not touch the door or window handles, radio dials, gear shifts and metal steering wheels during lightning.

For buses, the Institute says make sure all windows are closed, all passengers put their hands on their laps and pull over to wait out the storm.

What about human to human contact? The National Weather Service says the human body does not store electricity, so never hesitate to help someone struck by lightning. 

Verify Conclusion

We can verify lightning strikes are very common, and they can hurt you inside your home or vehicle if you are touching something that conducts electricity.

Copyright 2017 WFMY


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