When thunder roars, go indoors

Peterborough, ON, Canada / CHEX TV

Environment Canada has launches an awareness campaign focused on safety in the event of lightning.

“Many lightning injuries and deaths can be avoided by knowing when to take action and what to do,” the organization states in a media release.

This year, the focus of Lightning Safety Week, which runs through June 18, is debunking the myths around lightning.

captureContrary to popular belief, the majority of injuries and fatalities are not caused by a direct lightning strike but by ground current and side flash events, Environment Canada states. To stay safe, it is important to be familiar with the Canadian Lightning Danger Map (CLDM), which displays high-risk lightning areas in red, with an animation showing the movement of the storms. These maps are updated every 10 minutes.

A second myth is that tree cover offers a safe place to shelter during a thunderstorm.  The leaves of the tree may keep you dry for a short while but your chances of being struck by lightning increase dramatically as you could be struck by side flashes from the trunk, or ground current after the tree

“The leaves of the tree may keep you dry for a short while but your chances of being struck by lightning increase dramatically as you could be struck by side flashes from the trunk, or ground current after the tree is struck,” states Environment Canada, adding that 20 per cent of lightning deaths occur from people sheltering under a tree or in an open gazebo.

Another wrongly held myth is that the rubber on the tires of a car or wearing rubber boots provides protection from lightning. In fact, it’s the metal shell of a vehicle that provides a pathway for lightning to flow around and over the vehicle before entering the ground. This is known as a Faraday cage. Rubber boots will not protect you.

“In fact, it’s the metal shell of a vehicle that provides a pathway for lightning to flow around and over the vehicle before entering the ground,” they state. “This is known as a Faraday cage. Rubber boots will not protect you.”

A final misconception is that there is no danger from lightning if it’s not raining. This is not true. Statistics show that two-thirds of damaging lightning strikes occur when the storm is not directly above the victim – but is approaching or has just passed by. Current lightning research, which includes

“This is not true,” the weather agency states. “Statistics show that two-thirds of damaging lightning strikes occur when the storm is not directly above the victim – but is approaching or has just passed by. Current lightning research, which includes high-speed photography, shows that the atmosphere around a thunderstorm becomes highly electrified. Lightning has been observed more than 40 kilometers from storm clouds.

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