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Fishing For Lightning

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Recent Blog Entries From Dr. Dave Hnida


Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorNew info out about the No. 1 target of fatal lightning strikes in America: it’s people who are out fishing.

I always thought golfers would be the leaders, but they are actually down the list behind campers and boaters.

But let’s face it — if there’s lightning around, anyone is at risk. Some more than others — mainly because they don’t respect lightning, thinking they have some mega-asbestos suit or magic force-field that will protect them.

Wrong.

Here are some tidbits to light up your sky:

Average lightning bolt = 50,000 degrees. That will fry more than an egg.

A bolt can strike up to 15 miles away — meaning if you’re relying on the old “one, one thousand, two, one thousand”  to gauge a safe distance — forget it. If you can see or hear lightning or thunder — it can get you.

Lightning can strike the same place twice — so if it misses the first time, don’t be surprised if it takes another shot at you.

Lightning is not attracted to metal — so while holding a golf club into the air during a storm remains idiotic and suicidal, it’s not a magic attractor.

Actually the two main factors for a strike: height and isolation: meaning lightning will generally hit the tallest thing in the area, especially when there are more than a few things in the area.

Therefore, if caught outside don’t head for the nearest tree.

On the other hand, don’t lie down and make yourself flat. The ground current of a lightning strike can travel across 60 feet of land surface.

Your best bet:  run like lightning to the nearest shelter — not a tent, not a canopy — but something with four solid walls. Even a car is better than nothing.

Speaking of the four wheeler, it’s not the rubber tires that protects you from the strike, it’s the electricity dissipating over the surface of the vehicle into the ground.

And once indoors, stay away from anything that does conduct electricity, like plumbing and electrical wiring (i.e landlines).

Then don’t forget it’s a bad idea to stand by a door or window taking in the oohs and aahs of a lightning show — the last thing you need is a close strike that blows the glass in.

As Arethra says: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Lightning can hurt you very badly.

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