5 Worst Places to Be in a Thunderstorm

In an Open Field

Chopping cotton. Baling hay. Feeding livestock. Herding cattle. These are just some of the activities people were engaged in when struck by lightning and killed in 2011 [source: National Weather Service]. All of these fatalities occurred in open fields. Some people were doing farm work; others were engaging in leisure activities. Lightning deaths on soccer fields are, unfortunately, not uncommon in this category.

No matter how important a task may seem, most activities can wait until after a storm. There are dire circumstances in which this might not be the case, but a sports game or potatoes that need to be dug up are not those circumstances.

If you do get stranded outside during a storm with nowhere to go, the National Lightning Safety Institute recommends that you get away from hills and isolated trees and get into the lightning crouch:

  • Put your feet together
  • Squat
  • Tuck your head
  • Cover your ears

If you're with other people, spread out -- it makes it less likely that all of you will be hit.

If lightning does strike one of you, don't believe the old myth that touching someone who's been struck will electrocute you. The human body doesn't store electricity [source: Webber]. If you're able, call 911 immediately. After that, try CPR or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If multiple people are struck, the American Meteorological Society says that medical authorities recommend starting with the people who look dead, since they can often be resuscitated [source: National Weather Service].

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  • Becker, William J. "Boating-Lightning Protection." Protection." University of Florida IFAS Extension. National Ag Safety Database. October 1992. (Jan. 11, 2012) http://nasdonline.org/document/209/d000007/boating-lightning-protection.html
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  • National Weather Service. "Updated AMS Recommendations for Lightning Safety." 2002. (Jan. 9, 2012) http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/ams_lightning_rec.htm
  • Pliny (the Elder). "Pliny's Natural History. In thirty-seven books." Vol. 1-3. Trans. Phileman Holland. Google eBook. (Jan. 11, 2012) http://books.google.com/books?id=XrFgAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA94&lpg=PA94&dq=pliny,+lightning+sleeping&source=bl&ots=YvYp7ezAB3&sig=F7MvKTxu9gwbZWGfyxvQ5IKdkIM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=wZQNT8DJE8PXtwe1q8TfBQ&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false
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  • USGA. "2012 Rules of Golf." Jan. 1, 2012. (Jan. 11, 2012). http://www.usga.org/Rule-Books/Rules-of-Golf/Rule-06/


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