Though you might put your odds of being struck by lightning at about a million to one, Stephanie Abrams, on-camera meteorologist for the Weather Channel, says everyone has a “1-in-300,000 chance of being struck by lightning in approximately one year.” In fact, lightning is the nation’s deadliest weather phenomenon. The varying degrees of injury a lightning-strike victim might experience include burns, memory loss, personality changes, headaches, nausea, sleep disorders, ringing in the ears, paralysis, and even death.
If you’re outdoors and hear thunder, lightning is sure to follow. Seek refuge indoors or in a hard-topped car immediately: Lightning can be a threat to your safety from as much as six miles away (30 seconds from flash to bang). Don‘t think that wearing rubber-soled shoes will offer you extra protection. If you are stuck outdoors with absolutely no shelter in sight, minimalizing yourself and your point of contact with the ground may improve your odds slightly, says Abrams: “Squat down to be at the lowest point and balance on the balls of your feet to have as little connecting you to the ground.”
Note that even indoors, there are dangers of a lightning strike. Because the electrical current can travel through pipes and wires, avoid showering during a storm or coming in contact with plugged-in devices like computers or phones, Abrams advises. It’s safe to head back outdoors and resume normal activities approximately 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
To aid a lightning-strike victim, call 911 immediately to seek medical evaluation and treatment. There is no danger in touching someone who has been struck, so it’s safe to administer CPR if the victim has no heartbeat or isn’t breathing.