Something that is very noticeable during storms is lightning strikes. And it's in a lightning can kill a person instantly if it hits directly against it. To avoid this type of impact, you have to know well what attracts lightning and how to avoid being near these places and objects.
In this article we are going to tell you what attracts lightning, how to protect yourself from it and the reason why lightning is attracted.
Table of Contents
nature of lightning
The rays are the result of natural potential gradients accumulated by cloud activity, which try to neutralize themselves, so sometimes they are only discharged between clouds or end up being attracted to the ground and affecting natural surfaces or infrastructures, endangering people.
Lightning can generate millions of volts and strike by choosing the path of least resistance or the closest, most direct surface. It is considered one of the most common wonders of nature, in fact, More than 3 million lightning strikes strike the world every day, which means about 44 lightning strikes per second. This phenomenon always occurs in thunderstorms, but you should not wait until we are in danger.
The threat of lightning is present from the moment it begins to form, peaking when the storm hits us, and then diminishing as it progresses.
What attracts lightning
While it's best to take shelter during thunderstorms, many popular beliefs about lightning have been proven wrong. An important myth is that if we wear some small metal accessories, lightning will be attracted to them. The reality is that when it comes to figuring out where lightning strikes, it is not so important to use metal objects in routine situations.
Many times we ask ourselves: can lightning strike anywhere? The answer is yes. However, what will really indicate the landing zone will be the location of the storm and where we are. In this way, we can consider specific conditions, elements and surfaces that can attract lightning:
While we have already mentioned that having a small metal accessory does not make much of a difference, as just being in the middle of a thunderstorm has the potential for risk, if we are in an open space, the dangerous situation increases. In the distance we become isolated objects. These are key factors that increase the probability of attracting lightning to our area. It is essential to stay away from items such as metal fences and large tools (pick, shovel, lever, etc.), since they can be conductive antennas.
Lightning seeks the fastest and shortest path between clouds and the Earth's surface, so they are more likely to hit hills, peaks and buildings than in flat and deep places.
Tall and pointed, they are great attractants and conductors of lightning. Also, in areas with moist soil, there is no reason to think that they are adequate to protect us from storms.
Pipes and cables
Lightning can enter buildings through metal pipes and cables because they are potential conductors and cause serious property damage. While the best thing to do during a thunderstorm is to seek shelter indoors, the immediate impact on wiring and plumbing connections can injure occupants. The most effective way to avoid this is to install lightning rod systems in the infrastructure.
Objects connected to receptacles also attract lightning (especially near doors and windows) and other devices such as corded phones, showers, and faucets, so they must be connected to a grounding system to prevent damage.
What are the signs of lightning?
The ideal is always a quick refuge, as a natural phenomenon, we must pay attention to:
- Big cloud approaching: watch for a large cloud (cumulonimbus) that approaches, accumulates and grows can be the beginning of a storm.
- Nearby Thunder: hearing sounds that are close to thunder is a telltale sign. To do this, it is convenient to calculate how many seconds after seeing lightning, thunder will be heard. In this way, you can determine if a thunderstorm is imminent.
- Tingling and hair on end: when a thunderstorm approaches, there is static in the air. Feeling the static of lightning, you have to leave quickly.
- Listen to the vibration of a metallic object: If there are metal objects nearby and you hear them buzzing, make sure you don't touch them and get away as soon as possible.
- Feel the taste of metal: feeling a metallic taste in your mouth could mean that lightning is near you. This is generated by electricity, so we have to go to a safe place immediately.
How to protect yourself from lightning?
Indoor lightning protection
At the first warning sign, avoiding going out during a storm should be a priority, so ideally seek protection in a house, enclosed building, or structure away from windows. When we are inside, it is better to retire to the central room. Avoiding landlines and unplugging all electrical equipment also helps with indoor safety.
outdoor lightning protection
If we're outside and don't have the option of hiding in a house or building, the car's metal chassis and doors protect us. Thus, staying in our car and closing the windows is an option. As we have already mentioned, in open spaces we have to stay away from trees, protruding surfaces, tall objects and wetlands, because water is a conductor of electricity. Also, falling to the ground as a protection action is not a good idea, as it actually increases the chances of being struck by nearby lightning. This is because light can circulate through the ground, especially if it is wet.
As you can see, there are different aspects to consider and it is important to know what attracts lightning. I hope that with this information you can learn more about what attracts lightning and how to protect yourself from it.