EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — For some people, lightning is a fascinating weather phenomenon to watch, but you should always do so from a safe distance.
Each year, people die from being struck by lightning.
According to the National Weather Service, on average, 43 people die every year from being struck (national 30-year average).
Did you know the heat from a single lightning strike is 4.85 times hotter than the surface of the sun? For reference, that’s 50,000°F.
Between 1959–2017, eight people died from being struck in Rhode Island, and there were 32 in Massachusetts. The majority of deaths in our area occurred when people were caught outside in an open field or under a tree.
If you find yourself in that situation, run to a sturdy and grounded building or seek shelter in a hardtop vehicle. Remember, if you are inside of a vehicle don’t touch anything metal – that includes your seat belt.
Storm data from the National Weather Service shows 90% of people survive being struck by lightning, but it comes with complications. Survivors describe various short-term complications, temporary deafness and blindness, and respiratory issues.
The long-term effects from being struck by lightning include muscle spasms, seizures, cataracts, and memory loss.
If you come across a person who’s been struck by lightning, you may be concerned their body can electrocute you. That’s not the case, in fact, that’s just a myth; the body doesn’t store electricity. Immediately call 911 and administer first aid or CPR, if necessary.
And don’t let these statistics scare you away from spending time outdoors. The chance of being struck is 1:1,222,000.
You will recall the 30-year national average for lightning-related deaths stands at 43 people. The 10-year average drops to 27 deaths.