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Lightning Storm Duck and Cover

I've been told for years that the proper way to wait out a lightning storm is to crouch down. Why is this better than lying down on the ground?

Question:

I’ve been told for years that the proper way to wait out a lightning storm is to crouch down. But I always wondered why this was better than just lying down on the ground. You would seem to be less of a target if you are lying down flat.

Submitted by - -Anthony, Blackwood, NJ

Answer:

Crouching down during a lightning storm does reduce your height and, therefore, reduces the chance you’ll be a target. But at least as important, a proper crouch keeps your contact with the ground to a minimum. A nearby strike sends a powerful current through the ground–if your contact with the ground is minimal, a ground current will pass underneath harmlessly. If you are lying down, spread out with lots of entry and exit points for the electricity, a ground current may pass through your body and possibly cause great harm.

1 Comment

  1. John

    When Lightning passes through the ground, the “dirt” acts like a resistor. The current passes through and the voltage is divided across the resistance. The longer the distance between two points on the ground the higher the resistance is and the higher the voltage between them. So if you are laying on the ground that distance is around 5 and a half feet. The potential voltage is lethal. If you are crouched on the ground, hugging your knees, with your feet together the potential is very small. That is why they teach electrical linemen to hop away from a downed power line instead of walking or running. Just the distance between your feet in mid stride is lethal.

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