9 tips for avoiding lightning strikes

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According to News24, 10 people have died after being struck by lightning in the past few weeks in KwaZulu Natal. The latest strike killed three teens from two families when the teens were returning from a local shop. A provincial spokesperson was quoted as suggesting that “abnormal weather conditions as a result of climate change” are to blame for the increase in fatal lightning strikes.

It’s not always possible to predict where lightning will strike, but here are some tips you can pass on to your kids on what to do when there is lightning activity.
  • Lightning is electricity which is attracted to the tallest object around, as it travels between the earth/ground and the sky; the first rule of lightning is to avoid being outside when there is lightning activity. Avoid fields and open spaces which could make you the tallest object.
  • The second rule is also incredibly important: When we’re caught outside in a storm, our instinct is to seek shelter under a tree. This is very dangerous to do when there’s lightning around - if the tree is struck, the lightning could jump to your body, too.
  • A car is a safe place to find shelter. Even though a car is metal, lightning will be conducted through the metal of the car and into the ground.
  • Avoid using items such as umbrellas or golf clubs or doing activities such as kite-flying.
  • If caught in an open space, find a hole or ditch to hide in, and make your body as small as possible - don’t lie flat, though.
  • Inside your house, avoid anything electrical such as plugs, appliances and telephones, as well as anything relating to water such as taps, basins or pipes, as water is a conductor of electricity. Don’t take a shower during a storm!
  • Avoid swimming or standing on a beach, as lightning may strike at the water’s edge.
  • Remove anything metal from your clothing and body, such as jewellery, belts and coins.
  • Don’t use your cell phone outside during a storm.
These are just a few guidelines to get you started - lightning is very dangerous and unpredictable, so do pass on this information to your children: Following simple precautions could save their lives.

Do you know anyone who has been struck by lightning?
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