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Web Extra: Avoid being struck by lightning

Weather Week

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 a reference that is 50,000°F.

Between the years of 1959 & 2017, eight people died from being struck in Rhode Island, 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. 

Data from the National Weather Service- Storm Data shows that 90% of people survive being struck by lightning. But it does come with complications. Survivors describe various short term complications, temporary deafness & blindness, and respiratory issues. 

The long term effects from being struck by lightning include; muscle spasms, seizures, cataracts, and memory loss. 

If you were to come across a person who’s been struck by lightning, you might be concerned their body would electrocute you. That is not the case, a myth actually. The body doesn’t store electricity. Call 9-1-1, administer first aid or CPR if necessary. 

Don’t let these statistics scare you away from spending time outdoors, the chance of being struck are 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.

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