Lightning: How Close Is Too Close?
Lightning can be deadly. Knowing how close it is could save your life.
What it can do
Lightning is one of the least understood events in science, but one thing is clear; it can be deadly. The most common cause of death from a lightning strike is cardiopulmonary arrest, but all parts of the body can be effected. Quite often the respritory system will become paralyzed. Other areas that can be effected include damage to the central nervous system, ruptured eardrums, and eye damage. First and second degree burns are also common. Cuts and broken bones can occur when being thrown from a nearby strike.
It is closer than you might think
A bolt of lightning can produce 100,000 amperes or more, and heat the surrounding air up to 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. When the air near the bolt expands, we hear thunder. This will travel at the speed of sound, 1100 feet per second. This is about 5 seconds per mile. Most strikes occur within 5 miles of the storm. If there is less than 30 seconds between the flash and the thunder, the strike is within 5 miles. However, lightning strikes can occur 10 miles of the storm. Some lightning bolts have been observed to travel 50 miles. As a rule of thumb, if you hear lightning, you are close enough to be struck. Remember, it doesn't take a direct hit to be deadly.