Lightning’s bite is chilling in its randomness.
It covets neither metal — a persistent myth — or water, and can strike from a sun-filled sky as readily as when thunderclouds darken overhead.
In the past decade, an average of five people per year have been killed by lightning in Florida, with June, July and August typically having the highest number of fatalities because of the state’s reliable summer thunderstorms. There are also more people who are outside golfing, fishing and going to the beach.
Knowing the myths and facts about lightning's behavior can save your life.
1. MYTH: Lightning is attracted to metal objects.
FACT: The presence of metal makes no difference where lightning strikes. Height, pointy shape and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt strikes.
2. MYTH: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.
FACT: A vehicle with a metal roof is usually a safe place during a lightning storm, but it is the roof and metal sides of the car, not the tires, that offer protection. Lightning striking a car will be conducted through the metal into the ground.
3. MYTH: If it’s sunny with no clouds overhead, it is safe from lightning.
FACT: Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the center of a thunderstorm, far outside the area of rain.
4. MYTH: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
FACT: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, isolated object.
5. MYTH: It is good to take shelter under a tree during a thunderstorm.
FACT: Trees, because they are tall and pointy, are more likely to be struck by lightning, which could impact anyone standing underneath one. It’s often believed that golfers are struck the most by lightning, but that is also a myth. Most people killed by lightning during leisure activities are on or near the water.
This story originally published to palmbeachpost.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network.