Why is one safe from lightning in the car?

Anyone who has ever been struck by a thunderstorm is probably as fascinated as it is scared. The impressive natural spectacle occurs more often, especially in spring and summer. Lightning is caused by a temperature difference between high, cold cloud layers and ground-level, warmer weather conditions. The cold upper layers are charged with positive energy - further down, on the other hand, drops or ice particles are negatively charged.

Thunderstorm: Formation of lightning and thunder

Wherever such inequalities are formed, nature wants to rebalance them. This sudden charge balancing is done by lightning, which creates voltages of 500 million volts. The air in the vicinity of the flash heats up suddenly to many thousands of degrees and expands abruptly. This happens so fast that the air at the point where the lightning passes, can not make room fast enough, but is suddenly displaced. As a result, the thunder is heard. Since the speed of sound is rather slow compared to the speed of light, we hear the thunder later.

What to do during thunderstorms?

If there is a thunderstorm, you should definitely get away from the water. Water attracts lightning and conducts electrical current. You should also avoid electricity pylons, the metal also attracts the lightning. That's why bicycles are also located at a safe distance - ideally at least 50 meters away from people. The same applies to other metal objects such as umbrellas, hiking poles, keys and cell phones.

Old wisdom, such as "Book should you look for" and "Oak trees should you avoid" are wrong, because the kind of a tree has no influence on a lightning strike. Lightning tends to hit the highest point in a region. If a house is nearby, you should go in this.

Behave properly in the field and forest

If you are in a large field with no trees and houses, you should look for the lowest point possible in the area - for example, a depression - and squat there, keeping your feet together and passing the thunderstorm. Under no circumstances should you lay flat on the ground or try to run away from the storm: this is because the lightning bolt has a larger attack surface. The distance to other people should be at least half a meter.

If a single tree stands on a wide field, it can be struck by lightning with high probability. Therefore you should not stop right next to the tree. If you are in a forest, it is important to keep enough distance to the edge of the forest and to particularly prominent trees. In a group of evenly tall trees, on the other hand, one is relatively safe.

Why is one well protected in the car during thunderstorms?

The best protection is thunderstorms in a car, because the metal body forms a so-called Faraday cage. Even if the car is struck by lightning, the current flows outside through the car into the earth. However, you should turn off the car, because it is struck while driving from lightning, the tires may burst. It is also protected in trains, planes and gondolas. Cyclists and motorcyclists should, however, descend as quickly as possible and park their bicycles at a safe distance.

First aid with lightning strikes

When lightning strikes a human body, current flows in excess of 100, 000 volts flow through the body. The result is burns, cramps and paralysis up to respiratory and cardiac arrest.

If you are witnessing a lightning accident, you should immediately alert the ambulance and start with first aid measures. The worry of being hit by a lightning strike victim himself is unfounded, as the current flows immediately into the earth via the body.

Even if you do not see any injuries at first glance, anyone in contact with lightning should go to the hospital for surveillance. Because life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias can still occur hours later.

Rules during thunderstorms:

  • If possible, visit a building or stay in the car
  • Avoid water and moisture
  • Keep distance to metal objects and other people
  • squat down at a point as low as possible and close your legs
  • stay away from freestanding trees
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