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Myths vs. facts: What you should do to stay safe in a lightning storm

By Carlos Baquerizo, Contributor | Posted - May 11th, 2016 @ 3:12pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Rain, snow, hail and sleet: Utah skies have seen it all this spring. The American Red Cross recently stated the dos and don’ts on how to handle a thunderstorm with lightning, and debunked some common myths on “the number one weather-related killer in Utah.”

Here are several of the myths and facts about lightning, as outlined by the American Red Cross.

Myth: Lightning won't strike the same area more than once.

Truth: Lightning can strike the same area multiple times. Large buildings like the Willis Tower in Chicago and the Empire State Building in New York are more prone to lightning and are hit multiple times a year.

Myth: If the sky is clear, you’re safe.

Truth: You could be struck by lightning up to 15 miles away from a storm.

Myth: If you are inside a home, you are completely safe from lightning.

Truth: Homes have a lot of conductors inside them. If at home during a storm, do not plan on showering or making calls from a landline and avoid doors and windows.

Following these guidelines can keep everyone safe this summer, the most common thunderstorm season, according to The National Severe Storms Laboratory.

Tips on how to be prepared for a storm

  • Be aware. Listen to storm warnings and take shelter. Look out for dark skies, wind increases and lightning.
  • Outdoor activities should be postponed during storms and not resumed until 30 minutes after the last rumble. If swimming or at a ball game, get out of the water and stay away from bleachers and fences.
  • If behind the wheel during a storm, the safest option is to turn on hazard lights, pull over and wait for the storm to pass.

If someone is struck by lightning they will require medical help. Immediately call 911 and assist them. Someone struck by lightning does not carry an electrical charge and will not electrocute anyone else, according to the American Red Cross.

The National Weather Service said “lightning kills an average of 49 people each year in the United Sates and hundreds more are injured.” Most of the accidents could have been avoided had the victim found shelter sooner.

Carlos is a student at Utah Valley University and currently works as a news writing intern for You can follow him on Twitter at @Car1osBaquerizo or email him at

Carlos Baquerizo

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Updated: Sunday August 19, 2018 4:57 pm