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When Lightning Strikes along the Coast

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Living along the Gulf Coast usually means more exposure to thunderstorms and definitely right after, lightning strikes. Thunderstorms most often form in mid-latitude areas where warm air exists underneath much cooler air. Fronts are the boundaries that separate these two large air masses when they meet. Lightning bolts may last for just about one of 10,000th of a second, but the electricity they can generate could light a 100-watt bulb for three months.

There are risks associated to lightning strikes, and being constantly exposed to such may be too much to handle for some. The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warns of the danger posed by ground currents, which happen when a lightning strikes, accounting for possibly more than half of all lightning injuries and deaths.

Image source: Accuweather

Fortunately, as long as you keep in mind these tips, you can deal with this natural threat effectively and continue to enjoy what coastal living promises:

  • Close all windows and doors and stay in the middle of the house.
  • Stay away from anything connected by wires such as a corded phone and switch off all electrical appliances.
  • Refrain from getting near water and objects that conduct electricity, mostly those that are made from metal.
  • Do not take a shower and get away from sinks or any similar objects. Lightning can even strike through pipes.
  • Should a lightning strike happens while you are outside, especially if you are in an open field, steer away from trees or poles or any large object and curl into a ball in a standing position.
  • A vehicle may prove to be a safer option for you but remember to close all windows and not to touch the car’s walls as its body is mostly made up of metal. Stay inside for 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.
  • Be aware of the level of risk you are facing. If you hear thunder in the distance, start heading inside.

Whether you are living in the city or near the sea, natural threats may always pose a risk. Being well-informed and knowing how to protect yourself and your family will allow you greater freedom and less chances to worry.