Here’s What Actually Happens To Your Body If You Get Struck By Lightning

by 5 months ago
lightning strikes

Shutterstock / David Wheat


Getting struck by lightning is a fear that almost everyone on the planet has. The estimated population in America is over 326,000,000 and only ~47 Americans get struck by lightning each year but that doesn’t stop all of us from worrying about it.

One thing that’s often lost in the discussion about how excruciatingly painful it is to be struck by lightning is that 90% of people hit by lightning survive the experience. Sure, it comes with body scarring, it can blow the clothes off your body, and it burns hotter than the sun but if you’re ever hit by lightning there’s actually a ~90% chance you’ll survive.

Lightning strikes are more common in the Summer with daily thunderstorms throughout much of the nation, and warm weather that sees millions more American spending time at places like the beach where they’re exposed to strikes. The team at Tech Insider put together this clip which shows exactly what happens to you if you’re ever struck by lightning. What you choose to do with this information is up to you:

lightning carries between 1 to 10 billion joules of energy — enough to power a 100-watt bulb for at least 3 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 5X hotter than the sun’s surface.
This causes a rapid expansion of air, which leads to a shock wave 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 5kg TNT bomb (Blumenthal).
The intense heat, light, and electricity can also damage your eyes. In fact, it can bore holes in your retina and can cause cataracts within days or weeks. (via)

I’m starting to second guess my lifelong choice to live in the greater Tampa Bay area which at one time was considered to be the lightning capital of the world. Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela actually supplanted Tampa as the Lightning Capital of the World a few years ago while Tampa Bay is still the Lightning Capital of America.

In other news…HOW ABOUT THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING KNOCKING BOSTON OUT OF THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS?!?! If you’re a hockey fan, you can follow along with me on Twitter at @casspa as the Lightning wait to see if they’ll take on the Caps or the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.


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