Lightning Safety: Separating fact from fiction

Posted at: 07/15/2014 8:25 AM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4


Photo: Viewer submitted: Dave Ortiz

With New Mexico having one of the highest rates of lightning deaths in the country, it's important to understand how to stay safe. But the thing is, some commonly held beliefs about safety could be dangerous.

Say you're outside and there are no clouds overhead but lightning is off in the distance. Are you safe? The truth is, you're not. The National Weather Service points out that lightning often strikes three miles from the center of a thunderstorm. In fact, it can hit you from 10 to 15 miles away.

The weather service said you're only safe if you avoid anything that can conduct electricity. That includes everything from appliances, to computers, plumbing and metal doors.

Some people have been taught to squat down into a ball or lay flat on the ground if they get caught in lightning. The idea is they reduce their chances of getting struck. But that still puts you at risk of being hit by a potentially deadly ground current. Instead, just keep moving toward shelter.

Say you're out playing baseball – is a dugout a good spot? It's not because it's open to the outside. Other unsafe shelter includes car ports, sheds and any tents of any kinds. You should head indoors at the first sound of thunder. But you may still not be 100 percent safe from lightning in your home.