This incredible footage From Ukrainian shows a lightning bolt hitting the highway near yards from a man in his vehicle.
So is it safe to be in a car during a lightning strike?
Generally speaking, being inside a car during a lightning strike is safer than being outside, but it is not completely risk-free. Cars are designed with metal bodies that can act as a Faraday cage, which means they can conduct the electric current around the outside of the vehicle, keeping the occupants safe inside. The lightning strike’s electrical charge will travel along the car’s metal frame and then dissipate into the ground.
Here are some safety tips if you find yourself in a car during a lightning storm:
- Stay inside the car: Do not get out of the vehicle during a lightning storm. The metal frame of the car provides some protection from the electrical current.
- Avoid touching metal surfaces: Avoid touching any metal parts inside the car while the lightning storm is ongoing. This includes the steering wheel, door handles, radio, and other metal components.
- Keep windows closed: Keep all windows closed to prevent the entry of rainwater or lightning debris. The glass windows will not conduct electricity.
- Avoid using electronic devices: Refrain from using electronic devices like cell phones and GPS units while the storm is active. Lightning strikes can cause power surges that may damage these devices.
- Pull over if necessary: If the rain is heavy, and visibility is severely affected, it’s better to pull over to a safe location and turn on your hazard lights until the storm subsides.
While being inside a car is safer than being outside during a lightning strike, it’s essential to understand that there is still some risk involved. In extremely rare cases, lightning can still cause damage to a vehicle’s occupants, such as if it strikes the car’s antenna directly. However, these instances are highly uncommon. The chances of being struck by lightning in a car are low compared to being outside, where you are the tallest object in the vicinity.
As a general rule of thumb, during thunderstorms, it is best to stay indoors and avoid using electrical appliances until the storm passes. If you are caught outside with no access to a building, seeking shelter inside a car is a reasonable safety measure.