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  • Contrary to popular belief, lightning strikes aren't always a death sentence.

  • In fact, about 90% of people in the US who are struck actually survive.

  • Still, victims rarely walk away unscathed, and the damage can be permanent.

  • Lightning triggers 75,000 forest fires in the US each year, and can split entire trees down the middle in a split second.

  • So, it's frightening to imagine what it does inside a human body.

  • The good news is that you won't get cooked Wile E. Coyote-style, but it can still do damage.

  • For starters, lightning carries between one to ten billion joules of energy, enough to power a 100-watt bulb for at least three months.

  • When that amount of electricity enters your body, it short circuits the small electrical signals that run your heart, lungs, and nervous system.

  • This can lead to cardiac arrest, seizures, brain injury, spinal cord damage, and even amnesia.

  • But electricity isn't your only problem.

  • Lightning is blisteringly hot.

  • In under a second, it can heat the surrounding air to temperatures five times hotter than the sun's surface.

  • This causes a rapid expansion of air, which leads to a shockwave that we hear as thunder.

  • It has been calculated that someone standing within 30 feet of a lightning strike point can experience a blast wave equivalent to a five-kilogram TNT bomb.

  • The intense heat, light, and electricity can also damage your eyes.

  • In fact, it can bore holes in your retina and cause cataracts within days or weeks.

  • Other side effects of lightning can include impotence in men and overall decreased libido.

  • That's just what happens on the inside.

  • As the lightning moves toward the surface, it can force red blood cells out of your capillaries into your epidermis like a bruise.

  • These intricate designs are called "Lichtenberg figures".

  • These intense temperatures can also heat up any metal you might be wearing, causing third-degree burns, and can also rapidly vaporize the rain water or sweat on your skin.

  • The resulting steam explosion may blow off your clothes and shoes, leaving you nearly naked.

  • On average, 47 people in the US are killed by lightning each year.

  • So, you might be wondering, how do I make sure I'm not that guy?

  • For starters, check weather forecast ahead of time and stay indoors during a storm.

  • But if you're stuck outside, avoid isolated trees, poles, and open fields, and run as fast as you can toward safety.

  • You're best off in a developed building or a hard-topped metal vehicle.

  • So, stay calm and just remember: When thunder roars, go indoors.

Contrary to popular belief, lightning strikes aren't always a death sentence.

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B1 US lightning damage electricity indoors heat thunder

What Happens When You're Struck By Lightning? | The Human Body

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    Elise Chuang posted on 2022/06/07
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